Christina McDonald follows up her novel The Night Olivia Fell with the suspenseful Behind Every Lie and proves that she can dig deep into the human psyche and give us another emotionally charged story about family secrets, lies, and survival.
In one of the alternating points of view, we witness a terrifying mother’s experience—the loss of a child. While the two mothers chat downstairs, one of their daughters plunges from a second-story window to her death. To give more away would demand spoilers, and I won’t do that to readers.
But the novel doesn’t begin there. At the start of the story, one of the narrators, Kat, awakens after being hit by lightning. She is covered in blood and believes she killed her mother.
How those two threads weave together is the strength of this novel. McDonald takes us in and out of possibilities leading up to a conclusion that makes perfect sense and will be guessed by a few devout “thriller” readers.
The story shows us how one decision can carry through many lifetimes, decisions that seemed right and necessary at the time, and even seemed the only way out for these two women. I felt the emotional impact of what faced these women and can relate to the choices they made. The tension builds as the decisions lead to even more danger. Not all is what it seems.
The novel is well-plotted and twisty, and in Hitchcockian style, we know more than Eva does from Kat’s storyline, giving us an inside track to what Eva is up against.
I love how McDonald uses the Japanese repair method of kintsugi, the act of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. Kintsugi shows off the scars of the mended broken pieces instead of trying to hide them, a wonderful way of making an analogy to Eva’s many physical scars and her broken psyche.
I gave this novel four stars because, although McDonald can write some beautiful and appropriate descriptions for the tone of the scenes, she also creates analogies that stop me from reading. They can be awkward and melodramatic, and because I can’t quote from and an advanced reader copy, I can’t give you examples. Also, she doesn’t need to tell us how a character feels after showing us with body language and dialogue. This may sound picky, but I wish she’d trust the reader more with this.
Thank you to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this advanced copy of Behind Every Lie.