Meet Lucy and Stephen:
Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.
Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.
Get Ready To Feel The Things
Tell Me Lies is an unflinching, brutally honest coming-of-age story. Lucy’s journey is intense, and frustrating, and so devastatingly accurate. College can be great for some; a toxic, insecurity-and-cocaine-fueled dumpster fire for others. Spoiler alert: Lucy’s experience is the latter. She’s not always likable; I cringed more than once at her superficial, self-absorbed perspective. I groaned as she drowned her issues in booze, drugs, and eating disorders, jeopardizing her future, her friendships, and her health. The girl was a hot mess of bad decisions and self-inflicted misery. But oh, oh, oh, did I empathize with her relationship with Stephen.
Quitting Mr. Wrong Is So Damn Hard
A lot of women have a Stephen in their past. He’s charming, intelligent, electrifying. Manipulative. Withholding. Unfaithful. Being the center of his attention is an unrivaled, heady rush. Being ignored by him is agonizing. Whatever hold he has over you, it keeps you coming back again and again, even once you’ve opened your eyes to the lies. He beckons, you go, like a moth to flame. Even though you hate yourself for it.
Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s POV, Tell Me Lies is the book you wish you’d read before your own misadventure in unhealthy relationships. It’s ugly, and distressing, but wading through Lucy’s self-destruction and heartache is so worth it to see her triumph in reclaiming her self-worth by the end. I was rooting for her with the sage benefit of hindsight, and watching her heartache and subsequent personal growth was like re-experiencing my own. And being inside Stephen’s head was a real yucky portrait of narcissistic assholery. He’s probably a bit more extreme than most bad boyfriends, but the insight into his sociopathic brain is morbidly, horribly fascinating.
So read Tell Me Lies, and take a walk down the haunted Regrettable Relationship Lane to revisit the Ghost of Crappy Boyfriend Past. And then kick him in the nuts. It’s surprisingly nostalgic.