Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying in This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, a standalone thriller following two teens who discover a body off the coast of their seaside town. As they search for the killer, they will learn the students of both the local prep school and the nearby reform school will do anything to protect their secrets.
Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.
When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.
Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.
As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.
As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.
What I Loved
This Is Why We Lie is a YA mystery/thriller that falls more on the side of mystery than thriller, and I really enjoyed that change of pace. Jenna lives with her aunt, who is a police detective. When her aunt starts investigating the murder of a classmate, Jenna feels like the police have it all wrong.
They are looking at other teens with who Jenna is close, and she knows it can’t be them. So, to make sure the right person is caught for the murder, Jenna starts investigating it herself and puts herself in the killer’s crosshairs.
The story is narrated by Jenna and Adam. They each represent the kids from their prospective schools implicated in the murder. Adam found the body in the early morning hours floating in the ocean and tried in vain to save her. Jenna watched it all unfold as she was there taking photos for her portfolio. Together, they try to figure it all out, and they make a good team.
I only guessed the killer fleetingly as I grabbed onto one of the actual clues but lost that train of thought as I analyzed red herring after red herring. This mystery has plenty of misdirection, making it a genuine puzzle. I enjoyed that aspect as well.
The pace is quick, the ending explosive, and this is easily a one-sitting kind of book. The setting is a perfect teen setting staying almost exclusively on one high school campus or the other. The overall setting is a beach setting, which I always love. I can never get enough of a good beach local.
What I Wish
I wish that Jenna had a little more depth to her character. Adam actually has a pretty sound foundation of development. But Jenna, I felt like only the surface was scratched, and I would love to have had a deeper look into what makes her who she is and why she feels like she must save her friends.
Jenna and Adam are the main characters and the narrators. Jenna lives with her aunt because she has no idea who her father is, and her mother is off trying to find her next adventure halfway across the globe. Adam is at a reform school because of his anger issues after his mom’s death and his father’s re-entry into his life. Both have lots of baggage for being just teenagers but are easily relatable and even admirable on occasion.
Reminds Me Of
This reminded me of other YA mysteries I’ve read that are set in a school (or, in this case, between two schools). It is tamer than some but still full of suspense, and all that makes a mystery fun to read.
To Read or Not to Read
If you, or a teen you know, are looking for an excellent puzzling mystery, then This Is Why We Lie should be at the top of your list to get this fall.
Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.
Gardiners Bay at dawn is my secret. There’s a moment, right before the day starts, when the ocean is bathed in amber light. That first golden breath of morning. Everything is still, apart from the pelicans gathering near the water, their plump bodies shuffling along the shoreline. Sometimes I sit on the promenade for hours with my legs suspended over the pebble beach below, just watching the night turn to day. Watching the darkness turn to light.
It’s often like this, just me and the birds. The only other people I tend to cross paths with at this hour are fishermen wearing heavy-duty gear and hugging their thermoses. They sit on the benches and swig their hot drinks while skimming the daily newspaper. Then they leave. A little while later, their boats drift out onto the water.
Today, though, I’m the only one here.
I raise my camera and adjust the focus, capturing the new light as it spills over the ocean. In the muted daylight, the silver tide is a murky, dull gray and frothing as it slaps against the shore.
“Help! I need help!”
My eyes dart across the shoreline. There’s a boy on the stretch of beach at the foot of Rookwood Cliff. He’s kneedeep in the water, fully dressed.
He shouts again.
I spring to my feet and run along the promenade. Ducking beneath the boardwalk railings, I jump down to the pebbled cove.
The soles of my feet sting at the impact of the stones beneath my Converse. I scramble toward him, my footing slipping on the damp pebbles.
It’s then that I recognize him.
His jeans are soaked to the thigh. He’s wading through the shallows, his legs tangled in fishing net and seaweed. And a body lies limp in his arms. A girl. She’s swollen, her skin has turned purple, and one arm is swinging downward with the momentum of Adam’s labored movements.
I press my hand to my mouth.
“Call an ambulance,” he shouts.
But all I can do is stand there, paralyzed by the sight. He lowers the girl onto the sand and begins CPR, breathing into her mouth.
It’s too late, I want to tell him.
She’s already dead.
Excerpted from This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, Copyright © 2021 by Gabriella Lepore. Published by Inkyard Press.