Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Reinventing Yourself is a REALLY Bad Idea

The Secret to Lying
by Todd Mitchell

*This book was received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. As per the rules, I receive a free book in return for a review, and whether it's positive or negative has no affect on my receiving books in the future.*

James is tired of being a nobody, the kid everyone overlooks because he's just plain average. He jumps at the chance to attend a public boarding school for gifted kids, where he reinvents himself as a rebel. He's got it made now - purple hair, ripped jeans, and a few lies have given him a reputation. But his dreams suggest that more is going on beneath the surface than even James realizes.

Todd Mitchell's first book for teens explores the common theme of identity in an inventive way. James' dreams reflect what he's doing to his self, and you see that acting one way and being another really affects his psyche deeply. I actually thought the dream sequences were the weakest part of the story, preferring the interactions with friends, teachers, and the IMs with "ghost44." Mitchell does a good job of discussing teen issues, like cutting, without ever making them the focal point of the story. The focus instead is all on James - who is he, and who will he choose to be? Moments of humor also keep this from being a heavy read; one of my favorite parts was his description of the gifted school's cheers as using words that the opposing team needed dictionaries to understand. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more books by this author.

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