If I Lie / Corrine Jackson, Simon Pulse 2012 9781442454132.
What an amazing book this turned out to be. Even though you are let in on the big secret very early on, the author does such an amazing job of weaving the story, you are mesmerized until the very last page. Quinn and Carey are the perfect couple. They’ve grown up in a military culture where almost every family in town has someone in the Marines, someone who was killed in action , or someone who served and still acts military. Carey has been the perfect boyfriend, or so Quinn thinks until the night she discovers differently. Her reaction to the news, results in her going to their mutual best friend Blake and spending the night with him as much to help convince herself she’s still desirable as in reaction to the shock she just received. When Carey comes to her beaten and full of despair the next day, Quinn makes a painful decision to stick with him for the time being. Blake, seeing them together again that night at a football game, becomes extremely angry and confronts her. Their resulting interaction beneath the stands quickly turns passionate and someone snaps a photo that shows Quinn nearly unclothed and in a compromising position with him, but the only thing in the picture that might identify Blake is a tattoo that only he, Quinn and Carey know he has.
The bulk of the book occurs after Carey is reported missing in Afghanistan while on a Marine mission. Quinn, already a social pariah after the compromising photo has been posted on Facebook, now has to run a daily gauntlet of hate and scorn, not only at school, but at home where her ex-marine dad is still holding in his own pain from the day Quinn’s mother, who could no longer tolerate his rigid obsession with the corps, ran off with his brother. At first, Quinn deals with the daily assaults by trying to appease and be as invisible as possible, but that strategy quickly becomes next to impossible for her to follow. The only person who doesn’t judge her is George, an elderly veteran spending his last days at the local veteran’s hospital where Quinn has been ordered by her father to do community service. The way their developing relationship is handled by the author is one of the highlights of the book. George is irascible as can be, but Quinn sees through this as they learn each has something to give the other. George gives her the emotional support found nowhere else in her life, as well as teaching her to become a pretty good photographer. In return, Quinn gives him the mobility and extra hands he needs to continue helping other veterans at the hospital record their stories for the National Veterans’ History Project.
When Carey is rescued by other marines, the news sets numerous events in motion. Quinn has kept her promise to him not to reveal the secret that set her on her disastrous course the night before the photo, but has gotten nothing but grief and hatred in return. How they resolve this, how she sorts out her relationship with Blake , who has secretly (well maybe not so secretly) loved her all along, what happens when her mother comes back into her life unexpectedly, what happens when she finally reaches her breaking point with her punitive dad and how everything shakes out at the end make for one awesome read. This is a book both adults and young adults who like a reality-based romance with plenty of tension will thoroughly enjoy.
And now for something completely different. Writing newspaper columns can be an ephemeral thing. They don’t seem to last in small newspapers, either that or I have the ability to kill off the newspapers themselves. (I seemed to be able to do that with restaurants in Boothbay Harbor when I was the library director down there). While The Town Line in South China still publishes every week, most of the others I’ve written for went away at some point. The last one was the most fun and cost me a few library patrons, but what a great opportunity for a semi-loose cannon. It was called “Right-Minded, But Left of Center” and appeared in the SV Weekly out of Newport with satellite editions appearing all the way from Skowhegan to Greenville.
It started when I complained to the publisher that every opinion column in the paper seemed to be written by someone to the right of the Tea Party. His response, “Do you want to write one to espouse the opposite viewpoint?” I spent three hours weeding the flower garden the next day, writing madly in my head the entire time. The result was the first column which was where I gave our esteemed governor the nickname ‘Half-Baked.’ Skewering Maine politicos alternated with some out there suggestions for innovative products and industries, interesting dilemmas local folks found themselves in and takeoffs on articles in the state section of the Bangor Daily News. Trust me, there’s something rant-worthy in that part of the BDN every single day.
I was saddened when the print edition was abruptly pulled (without any of the columnists being told, I might add), but soldiered on when the publisher asked me to continue for a virtual edition. Eventually, he killed that as well, again not bothering to inform any writers. That was last October. A couple weeks ago, I got around to checking the email account I used for responses and discovered the fellow running the website in Lincoln where the last edition was published was still running a blog type website and had emailed to ask if I was interested. Heck yes, was my reply, so I’m back to tweaking the narrowly righteous up in the wilder counties of Maine. Stay tuned for more about this literary adventure.