I wanted - badly - to read If I Lie from the very moment I first glimpsed the cover and read the synopsis. I sent in an ARC request, and to my delight, one arrived for me. I have a huge soft spot for YA contemporary novels, and something about this one struck a nerve with me. I began Quinn's story with high hopes, and by the time I read the final page, I had shed tears of both happiness and sorrow for Quinn. She's braver than anyone in her small town knows, and I felt like I walked every step of her journey with her.
Debut author Corrine Jackson has created a fantastic story that blurs the lines between the truth and a lie. Along the way, Quinn is forced to question her loyalty to her boyfriend, Carey, who despite only being in If I Lie for a short time, was a hugely vivid presence, as Jackson illustrated his relationship with Quinn through flashbacks that filled in the missing pieces. I felt like I knew and loved Carey, too. All of the characters - major or minor - felt so real, like Jackson had breathed so much life into them. I identified most with Quinn, whether it was when she faced her accusers at school, or tried to get her distant father to notice her. My heart ached for her as more of her past was revealed, and I wanted so ardently for Quinn to find a happy ending.
If I Lie was, at times, a difficult book to read. Quinn's bullying and how her classmates ostracized her felt achingly real. There were so many times that I wished just ONE of her "friends" would stand up for her, or that Blake (Carey's best friend) would support her. I cried several times for her, but in the end, I was SO very proud of Sophie Quinn for growing as a person, for becoming stronger. I love a novel with character growth, and that was definitely there in If I Lie.
What really stood out to me in If I Lie were the relationships between the characters. Corrine Jackson does an amazing job of humanizing these characters, and showing what they mean to Quinn through their interactions. I sobbed as I watched Quinn and her father try to rebuild their relationship, and I grinned and teared up in the scenes with Quinn and George - a war vet who became like a father to her. And of course, the interaction between Quinn and Carey and Quinn and Blake absolutely tore at my heart. I loved the friendship the three shared, as well as the unique bonds Quinn had with both Carey and with Blake. The romance in If I Lie was done SO right - it was as fragile as love can seem while strengthening Quinn. My heart went out to Quinn as she tried to figure out what she wanted.
There are no easy answers in If I Lie. I questioned things, along with Quinn. By the end of Jackson's debut novel, my heart felt sore from feeling Quinn's pain. But there's also a lot of hope in If I Lie, as well. For such a short novel, Jackson packed in a great deal of emotions that stayed with me long after finishing. My one complaint might be that the ending was left too open, but in a way, it was also sort of beautiful, the healing that Quinn and other characters found. I look forward to reading anything else Corrine Jackson writes