Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: "Lies We Tell Ourselves" by Amy Matayo

I've been on the Amy Matayo train for a while now—Lies We Tell Ourselves is her tenth book, and I've read roughly half of them. One thing I love about her books is that you never know what you're going to get! Maybe the book will be dark and serious (The Whys Have It), maybe it will be light and funny (The Thirteenth Chance), or maybe it will fall somewhere in between (Christmas at Gate 18). What's a given, though, is that the book will be totally engaging!

Lies We Tell Ourselves is no different—it's a book that captures you from the beginning and doesn't let go until long after you've turned the final page.

Presley Waterman is a rescuer: of animals, of businesses, of people. Like the stray cat she's allergic to, but continues to care for. Like her small-town newspaper, a business that’s been dying a slow death for the better part of a decade. And like Micah. Her best friend and the man she has loved since they were kids, back when no one else cared.   

As for him… 

Micah Leven loves Presley. She’s the girl who’s always been there to help, the one who knows all the ugly things about him and makes him believe he can be a better man, the one who will never leave because she’s promised over and over.  
But he also loves Mara.  

Mara is his ideal. She’s the dream he conjured up as a boy and never wavered from. She’s beautiful, ambitious, driven, a fellow newscaster at his Atlanta station, and the perfect asset for the life he’s always wanted. Together, they could conquer the world and their respective careers. Even better, with Mara he could prove that he did—in fact—finally amount to something. Maybe then his father would be proud.   

There are just a few things Presley and Micah have both forgotten. One, just because you rescue someone doesn’t mean they’ll love you for it. Two, some dreams disappear when reality wakes you up. Three, the only way to silence lies is to face the truth head-on. 

This is the story of the man torn between two existences, the woman who finally took the choice away from him, and what happens when you stop listening to lies once and for all. 

Even if the biggest liar is you.

This book! It is so, so good. Emotionally engaging with characters you want to hug (or slap, depending), Lies We Tell Ourselves definitely doesn't live in fantasyland. It deals with real-life issues like child abuse, dysfunctional relationships, mental illness, and the emotional baggage that goes along with a rough childhood.

Presley and Micah are two very broken people who meet as children and form an incredibly co-dependent relationship. When Lies We Tell Ourselves begins, the two have been loving—and hurting—each other for the better part of two decades. While the novel does contain romance, I'd hesitate to label it a romance; really, it's far more about Micah and Presley each discovering their own value and taking strides to work through prior hurt than it is about falling in love.

The novel is told in first person present tense from three alternating perspectives: Micah's, Presley's, and Mara's. First person present tense doesn't always work for me, but here it feels very intimate and personal, and it helped me to understand the characters (even Mara, who is ... difficult to like).

Really, I have just one criticism: Most of the novel takes place within six months to a year, but at the 80% mark (according to my Kindle copy), the main story ends and the epilogue begins. It jumps ahead multiple times before finally ending roughly four years later. And all the jumping forward just left me feeling a bit off kilter. Matayo did a good job of filling the reader in on what happened in the time that was skipped, but it still seemed odd to me to have such a large chunk of the book be the epilogue and to have so many time jumps. It's a bold artistic choice that didn't land with me; however, most readers probably won't care as much as I did.

So that's why I'm giving this book 4 stars instead of 5. But don't let that deter you—this is a magnificent novel with a powerful message: you are loved and you have worth, no matter what anyone has told you or what you tell yourself.

Note: If you're a longtime Matayo reader, watch out for a fun reference to The Wedding Game!

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Matayo's Christmas at Gate 18 (4-1/2 stars), The Whys Have It (4-1/2 stars), The Thirteenth Chance (5 stars), The Wedding Game (4 stars), In Tune with Love (4-1/2 stars), and A Painted Summer (4-1/2 stars).

Author Amy Matayo is an excellent speaker, mathematician, seamstress, chef...and liar. She's decent at writing books but not much else. Then again, the book thing makes her marginally cool and a whole lot intimidating.
Not really. Not even her kids are afraid of her.

She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. But she's proud of that degree and all the ways she hasn't put it to good use.

She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.

Keep up with her: website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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