Title: Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 370 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
To all my old friends:
So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he’s dead.
When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby’s whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.
Because even friends keep secrets. They just don’t stay secret for long.
Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blurb, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.
Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble is an engrossing novel of friendship and forgiveness.
Ten years after leaving Chatwick, Vermont and never returning, Ruby St. James is back for her childhood friend, Danny Deuso’s funeral. Her reunion with her best friends from childhood through high school (dubbed “the crew) is uneasy since she cut off all contact with them when she left for college in New York. Navigating the death of their friend is already difficult, but when Danny’s mom invites the crew back to her house for a private memorial, everyone is shaken by the letter Danny left behind. From beyond the grave, he threatens to reveal their deepest darkest secrets if they do not do so themselves. Over the next few months, they each receive unnerving messages they have no doubt are from Danny which leaves them all nervously anticipating how he will destroy their lives.
Growing up, Ruby and Danny has the most in common since their home lives are so dysfunctional. Ruby is the person Danny turns to for comfort but Murphy is the one who provides him with a safe haven. As Danny’s life slowly implodes due to his chaotic life, Ruby and Murphy become close friends who spend long hours talking on the phone. Rounding out the group are Ally, who relies on the crew for support after her life is upended, Emmett, the serious friend who walks the straight and narrow and Aaron who becoms a defacto member after he and Ally begin dating.
Despite how closely intertwined their lives were back then, each of them have secrets that have been kept hidden from one another. Danny leaves each of his friends an envelope with their secret that he expects them to reveal. He also leaves a legacy of guilt for members of the crew since, in his opinion, they all failed him when he needed their help.
A series of flashbacks provide an insightful and thought-provoking view of their friendships and their lives. The secrets they are each keeping are cleverly concealed despite these peeks into the past and the suspense surrounding what they are hiding is propels the storyline.
A riveting debut, Friends and Other Liars is an intriguing novel that has a wonderfully unique premise. The characters are multi-layered and well-developed. Kaela Coble does a brilliant job keeping each of the secrets under wraps until the novel’s emotionally satisfying and cathartic conclusion.