The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton

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The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Gripping thriller about a girl with a stupendous memory on the run from an abusive researcher. But how far can memory really be trusted? Super, tense, read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: July 2018
Publisher: Stripes
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1847159489

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Jess is in a meeting with Dr Harrison, the school counsellor. Dr Harrison is hoping to help Jess come to terms with the death of her room-mate, Hanna. But he's not having much success, largely because Jess has no intention of telling him how she feels. Instead, she feigns a grief she does not feel so that he is satisfied and she gets out of there as quickly as possible.

Sounds harsh, right? And Jess is feeling guilty about events leading up to Hanna's death but she isn't the touchy feely type who will get anything much out of sharing her feelings or basking in Dr Harrison's empathy. Jess knows she lacks empathy. But she also knows her talents lie in an altogether different direction. Can you imagine what it would be like to remember everything that had ever happened to you in great detail? For every single second of every single day? Because Jess can do that. Her mind is an enormous library of these details.

Memory expert Professor Coleman knows this about Jess, but she doesn't know where Jess is because Jess escaped from her research programme about a year ago. Since then, Jess has taken on a new identity, blagged her way into a private school in remote Dartmoor and is trying to make it until she's eighteen and can disappear off into a normal life where Professor Coleman can never find her.

But Professor Coleman is looking. And Hanna has died. And there's a new boy at school who is awakening all sorts of feelings in Jess. And someone is sending Jess anonymous notes that hint at her real identity. Who can Jess trust? Can she even trust herself as her past creeps remorselessly up on her and even her formidable memory seems to be letting her down?

Ooh! I loved this gripping thriller! It's taut and tight and gets really rather frightening at times. I loved the twists and turns along the way to the eventual reveal and tension is maintained right up to the end. I got quite a bit wrong but as a fair disclosure, I usually do. I just get carried away. I liked Jess. She's a pain in the neck a lot of the time - partly because of her traumatic past and partly because that great big memory does take up all of her brain, leaving her social skills way behind. But she's determined and courageous and her deepening feelings for Dan give her a very relatable vulnerability. And all the detail about how memory works is both wonderfully interesting and well researched.

The Truth About Lies is a great debut from Tracy Darnton. It's one for everyone who enjoys a great thriller.

As an afterthought: one of the characters in The Truth About Lies is a "super recogniser" - a person with exceptional facial recognition skills. Are you such a person? To find out, head over to the University of Greenwich website to take the test.

Interesting explorations of memory also feature in Forgotten by Cat Patrick, Slated by Teri Terry and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson. Tracy also contributed a lovely short story to the [I'll Be Home For Christmas by Benjamin Zephaniah and Others|I'll Be Home For Christmas]] anthology.

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Buy The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton at


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