Title: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
Author: Chelsea Sedoti
Publication Date: January 2017
Category: Young Adult Fiction
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
So what’s this book all about?
Senior and social outcast Hawthorne Creely doesn’t really believe that anything drastic has happened to missing girl Lizzie Lovett. After all, Lizzie, who used to go to her school, is beautiful, popular, and charismatic, and nothing bad happens to people like her.
Actually, Hawthorne has a theory of why she’s gone missing, and to prove it, she has to immerse herself in the life of Lizzie Lovett. That includes taking Lizzie’s old job and getting to know her boyfriend. She knows the risks, but she’s willing to go through it to solve the disappearance of Lizzie–and maybe, in the process, find her own place in the world as well.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett: The Positives
Okay, so, this book is one of those books that I kind of binge-read in almost one sitting. It might be because I just read a fantasy book beforehand so reading a contemporary felt refreshing and new, I don’t know. It could also be because the writing was simple, straightforward, and even hits home more often than not. Although Hawthorne can be too out-of-this-world for me sometimes, I could relate a lot to the way she thinks because I also used to have those same thoughts when I was her age. Lines like, “When something starts out perfect, it usually lets me down,” or “I envied Lizzie’s happiness. It seemed unfair that she should have so much of it when other people had so little.” (Can you tell I had some emo thoughts back then?)
And I think that’s where this book succeeds the most: Hawthorne is so real. She has probably one of the most authentic teenage voices I’ve read in some time. She can be selfish, and downright insufferable at times, but what I like is that the book also acknowledges that yeah, she’s kind of a super jerk at times. Like many books about growing up and discovery, there’s scenes of sexual awakening (although not graphic), issues such as depression and suicide, searching for a place to belong, and coming to terms with oneself and others. Hawthorne eventually learns to understand herself and acknowledges her mistakes, and becomes a better person in the process.
So if this is about Hawthorne, then why is the title “The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett”?
Because although Lizzie is only mentioned a lot in the book, and the only time she actually appears and has speaking lines is in Hawthorne’s flashbacks, Lizzie is central to the development of the story and of Hawthorne. Because Lizzie has everything that Hawthorne doesn’t… but as the story progresses, Hawthorne’s discoveries of Lizzie molds her as a person and she realizes that, hey, maybe Lizzie’s life isn’t as charmed as she thought it was, after all.
I had to get to the end of the book for the title to make sense, actually. Like, what are the hundred lies, and will Hawthorne eventually get over herself to finally learn what they are? And then the last few chapters happened, and I was like “oh,” and man that’s some heavy stuff right there.
It’s difficult to say anything without spoiling the book, but I think even if Lizzie was at first just a caricature of the happy, perfect girl that Hawthorne made up in her mind, by the end of the story Lizzie becomes just as complicated and imperfect as Hawthorne’s character. And her secrets are heartbreaking.
What did I take away from this book? That I shouldn’t judge people by appearances: they may seem happy, but deep inside they may be battling something that can occasionally be too large for themselves. It reminded me to reach out more and be kinder to people, because maybe that’s what they need sometimes, and maybe I can make their life a little better. That we all have the capacity to make someone’s life better, if only we listened a little more.
Ok so this book is a 5… wait, 3 and a half stars only??
Shh, calm down, hypothetical confused reader. I did binge-read this book and I loved Hawthorne’s voice, but as always, I have to acknowledge the negatives of this book.
The main cringe point that made me drop an entire star is the romance that eventually develops between Hawthorne and Lizzie’s former boyfriend, Enzo. Enzo is 25 in the book, and Hawthorne is… 17, I think? I would like to say 18, so I can continue to believe that Chelsea Sedoti didn’t just write about underage sex. And man, their relationship is all kinds of effed up. Like, Enzo actually calls Hawthorne “kid” during their first conversations, and then suddenly BAM! Falling in love/lust and having sex IN ENZO’S BED IN FRONT OF A PAINTING OF LIZZIE.
That was pretty weird (understatement of the year), and I think (or I hope) the author meant for it to be that way; still, it was super cringey. I’m okay with reading about people that are all sorts of wrong for each other being in a relationship, but even if this was acknowledged eventually in the book, I was too skeeved by it and was super tempted to skip some scenes altogether.
The other complaint is that there isn’t a lot of diversity in the cast. To be fair, some of the characters aren’t given a lot of physical descriptions and I could imagine the characters the way I like them (like I somehow imagine Emily as Asian even if I don’t recall her being described as that, for example). But that lack of acknowledgement is precisely my problem. For me, not directly acknowledging a POC is just as bad as erasing them completely from the book. POCs have to be acknowledged. They have to be seen; it’s the only way to have a really inclusive, diverse book, and in the process, to further acknowledge and normalize a diverse society.
And then there are those “not sure how to feel about this” moments…
So, Hawthorne is white, in a very white family. Still, I super cringed when I read this line when Hawthorne was describing a normal mom: “A mom who […] had pictures of Jesus in the house instead of Buddha statues.” I was like, “Bruh, what’s wrong about Buddha?”
I get that she’s a whitey white teen, and she’s just probably conditioned to think that Jesus = normal and Buddha = super weird hokey woo woo crap, which is why I’m not sure how to feel. The book never acknowledges that she was a jerk about that in particular, but I certainly do hope that the author doesn’t share the same opinions on Buddha as Hawthorne. Because that’s like, offensive, bro.
Overall, though, this book was certainly enjoyable and relateable despite the lack of cast diversity and the cringe-worthy romance. I would still recommend that people read it and judge for themselves whether Hawthorne is a character they can relate to, and whether this book is for them.
Bonus! Quotes I really liked from this book
[And] If you’re really lucky, you might even meet people who are weird in the exact same way you are and feel like you’ve finally found a place where you fit in.
I knew all about reading a lot. About how it could take you to a worl that was better than the real one. A world where there were adventures and mysteries and magic. Except, of course, books ended eventually, and then you had to go back to being yourself.
Maybe the luckiest people are the ones who know that no matter how bad things seem, there’s always something to live for.
My rating: (3.5 / 5)
Disclaimer: ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Are you excited for The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett? Have you already read it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!