Review: A Lie for a Lie by Robin MacCready

Life-altering experiences at center of fast-paced young adult novel

Posted:  Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 8:15am

“People say that when you have a life-altering experience, your brain takes a picture, and that memory stays with you to retrieve again, and again, and again. Like an old snapshot, it's sometimes out of focus.”

The first paragraph in Robin MacCready's new young adult (YA) novel, “A Lie for a Lie,” sets up a pathway between a past trauma and present dilemmas. By page 2, the issues high-school student Kendra Sullivan faces are more than clear. And the reader takes off from here in a literary jog, trying to keep up as Kendra travels from scene to scene, trying to make sense of her love life and her family life.

Kendra has suffered from anxiety attacks since an accident almost left her dead when she was 7. One of her coping mechanisms is disappearing behind a camera lens and snapping photos. But when she sees something she shouldn't, she realizes hiding behind a camera won't be enough. She must decide how to move forward, carrying within her information that could destroy her world.

The honest first-person prose, as related by Kendra, belies a complex personality. Her choices are by turns naive, hopeful and illegal, although readers may forgive that last choice as being somewhat justified. Well-drawn secondary characters, in particular that of her old friend, Bo, keep the narrative and the action constantly moving forward.

MacCready has written a fast-paced psychological mystery featuring an adolescent girl who would rather follow her heart than believe what her eyes and her brain are telling her. In an interview, the author revealed why she writes YA fiction. “I still have to ask the important questions — the ones we ask when we’re teens,” MacCready said. “Who am I? What do I want? Am I okay? Are my parents okay? Who is right and who is wrong, and what kind of action am I going to take?” These are the questions Kendra faces, and how she answers them will decide the course of her life.