Title: The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Is it better to live with a lie, or risk everything for the truth?
In Pintip Dunn’s gripping and timely novel, a young woman whose life unravels in the wake of her mother’s alleged suicide sets out to clear her name.
“The mother I knew would never do those things. But maybe I never knew her after all.”
Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.
As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death resurface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…
The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn is an engrossing young adult mystery about a teenager’s search for answers about her mother’s apparent suicide.
Six months ago, Cecelia “CeCe” Brooks’ mother, Tabitha, committed suicide following rumors she was sleeping with popular football player Tommy Farrow. Following a short investigation that did little to prove or dispel the allegations, the case is closed as far as the police and CeCe are concerned. With her senior year in front of her, she wants nothing more than fly under the radar and avoid the attention of her fellow classmates. During the first day of school, CeCe catches the eye of new student Sam Davidson when he steps in to help another student who is being bullied by resident mean girl, Mackenzie Myers.
Needing extra credit to pass one of her classes, CeCe ends up volunteering at the crisis center where her mother also worked. When she learns Sam is researching her mother’s suicide for a newspaper article, she reluctantly agrees to work with him and she begins digging into her mom’s cases at the crisis center. After CeCe begins getting threatening phone calls and texts, she is unsure who to trust but she is also unwilling to stop her investigation once she and Sam begin to uncover the horrifying truth.
Lost, confused and certain she did not know her mother at all, CeCe has withdrawn from her friends and keeps to herself. Never really close to her dad, their relationship is incredibly strained due to his intense grief over Tabitha’s death. Angry and hurting, CeCe remains torn about whether or not she truly believes the allegations against her mother. Despite her reservations about her mom’s guilt or innocence, once CeCe decides she wants to know the truth, she keeps looking for answers although she is a little scared of what she will discover. She does not always trust her own judgment and fear clouds her thinking, but once she realizes what is at stake, CeCe finds the courage she needs to continue her investigation.
Although there is NOT a love triangle in the book, CeCe is drawn to two different boys. Newcomer Sam is a little goofy and offbeat but he is a genuine, nice guy with some very adorable quirks. Liam Kessler works at the crisis center and he is incredibly charming and charismatic with a tragic past that CeCe can definitely relate to. With two completely different guys to choose between, who will capture CeCe’s heart?
The mystery surrounding Tabitha’s death is well written although the storyline is a little predictable. Pintip Dunn keeps readers off balance with plenty of red herrings, misdirects and a plausible list of suspects. With a few unexpected twists and turns, a handful of shocking discoveries and a stunning plot twist late in the story, The Darkest Lie comes to a dramatic conclusion that is a little clichéd but satisfying.
This fast-paced young adult mystery touches on some very relevant social issues but some of the subject matter might not be appropriate for younger readers.