Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 3, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Hawthorn wasn't trying to insert herself into a missing person's investigation. Or maybe she was. But that's only because Lizzie Lovett's disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don't happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she'll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.
So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie's disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously...at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie's life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie's boyfriend. After all, it's not as if he killed her-or did he?
Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn's quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.
Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism
Disability: 1 (Lizzie had depression)
This book has a bright, frilly cover, right? All sunny yellow and flower petals. THAT COVER IS A LIE, READER. THIS IS A BLEAK, SAD BOOK. Readjust your expectations accordingly and then come back for it. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett isn’t a book you should skip just because it isn’t what you thought it would be! It managed to squeeze a few tears out of my desert-dry eyes and cold heart.
Hawthorn is a complex, difficult character to stick with, but I can still sum her up in three words: SO FUCKING AWKWARD. She has no concept of what is and isn’t appropriate. She’s pretty much the ultimate outsider in her small little town! Having been that really weird kid at one point in my life (especially in middle school, when I had a lot of issues going on), I got her. At the same time, a massive barrier went up between us because she reminded me of Creepy Joey.
Joey was my tenth grade biology partner and happened to be dating one of my friends I’d met the summer before. If I complained of being cold, he’d shove my hands up his shirt because he was always warm. If I wore a skirt to school, he’d keep putting his hand on my leg and slide it up “jokingly” throughout class. He also claimed he was a werewolf and threatened to kill himself when my friend broke up with him the next year.
So yeah, it’s understandable I’d be put off by Hawthorn reminding me so much of Joey? I don’t want to be in his head or anywhere near him ever again, but Hawthorn put me pretty close to that.
Still, that roadblock is an entirely personal element and it’s hard to count that against the book. Though Hawthorn only interacted with the great Lizzie Lovett all of twice when Lizzie was a high school senior and Hawthorn was a freshman, she becomes deeply invested in finding out what happened to Lizzie. Her brother is deeply affected by the woman’s disappearance because he knew her, but for some reason, it goes much deeper for Hawthorn.
Our main character is no Nancy Drew or even a vaguely effective investigator, though! She’s just a girl fumbling around while the police are doing the real work. Hawthorn even grows disconcertingly close to Lizzie’s boyfriend, who was the last person to see her before she disappeared on their camping trip, and starts up a relationship with him. In an unwelcome connection to Creepy Joey, Hawthorn has decided Lizzie is a werewolf.
Yeah, this is what you’re in for.
Though it sounds ridiculous, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is surprisingly emotional as Hawthorn comes to understand her own life and problems through Lizzie’s disappearance into the forest. Rush is very aware of his sister’s obsession and does his best to look out for her. Another personal thing here, but Rush’s clear desire to protect his sister made me tear up. It would be nice to have a brother like him instead of the racist, deeply bigoted Trump supporter my own brother is. (Another thing that would be nice: less mean girl bullshit, but a minor character named Mychelle Adler brings that in spades.)
The real problem of the book is tied into a major theme that pops up throughout the book via conversations Hawthorn has with other characters. The solution to a mystery is always a disappointment, they say, because it’s much more mundane than they wanted it to be. In a move of pretty obvious foreshadowing, the end of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is definitely disappointing. But not because it’s mundane! Nah, it turns this otherwise great novel into the usual Dead Girl book.
Let’s be real, you’ve read the Dead Girls books: all those novels in which the main character’s entire arc revolves around a missing or dead girl. You could easily name a few off the top of your head right now because they’re pretty common! For instance, the one that got adapted into a bafflingly popular Netflix series and features a whole lot of triggering content like graphic scenes of rape and suicide.
Even if the actual point is that The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett really is just another Dead Girl book and not something greater like Hawthorn (and the reader) would like, it removes some of the emotional oomph from previous scenes as it hammers in the cliche point that nobody has it perfect even if we think they do.
The thing is that every one of us feels like an outsider looking in, but we have no idea the house is empty. The silhouettes we think we see enjoying the perfect life aren’t people at all, just a trick of the light created when you turn on the lights and pull down the window shades. This is what The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett exposes for the reader. If you want to get back in touch with your inner outsider for some reason, this is the book that will bring them out while bringing you to tears.