I received an eARC from the publisher for an honest review. Have fun.
Lizzie Lovett, former cheerleader and popular alumni from Griffin Mills High School, has gone missing. Hawthorn Creely wants to get to the bottom of it. She wants to know what happened to Lizzie and wants to find her. So much so that she creates a fantastical, borderline childish theory about what happened to Lizzie. Along the way Hawthorne teams up with Lizzie’s boyfriend, Lorenzo, and together they embark on a journey to find what really happened to Lizzie Lovett.
Sounds fun right?
I thought so too.
Okay, so that’s not the actual blurb for the book. The actual blurb goes like this:
A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.
The actual blurb sounds more interesting than the borderline sarcastic one that I wrote up, but the point is that it sounded interesting. It sounded like a mystery novel that I wanted to read. Sounded like it could be a thriller.
Before we continue, I’m going to just put a quick disclaimer. If you have an issue reading about anything that suggests slut shaming or suicide, I don’t recommend you go into my spoiler section of the review.
What actually happened? I got to read a book that talks about Lizzie Lovett five hundred times. When I say Hawthorn was obsessed with Lizzie, I mean she was obsessed. For about 80% of the novel, Hawthorn is constantly talking about how she hates Lizzie, how Lizzie could never have any troubles because she’s “perfect”, where is Lizzie, what’s Lizzie doing–Hawthorn never. shuts up. about. Lizzie. And then we finally find out what happened to Lizzie and Hawthorn is crying over it. Hawthorn is torn and then she keeps asking herself about Lizzie.
Look, I totally understand of Lizzie was your butt buddy or whatever, Hawthorn, but you barely knew her! You guys shared ONE YEAR of high school together. Why do you even care? Why are you so obsessed? I love a good mystery as the next person, but this is just out right creepy. Hawthorn only had one actual conversation of Lizzie Lovett and suddenly her life has to revolve around Lizzie.
Furthermore, Hawthorn was a terrible narrator. She was constantly talking about how people didn’t understand her. How everyone hated her. Essentially, take all of the teenage angst you can possibly think of and put it in Hawthorn. People say she’s supposed to be sarcastic and witty, but really she’s just vindictive and hateful for no other reason than the fact that it’s Hawthorn vs. the world. Everyone has or has had teenage angst. It’s a part of growing up–but this was outright insufferable. Every other sentence was about how much she hated almost every aspect of her life if she wasn’t talking about Lizzie and her ridiculous theory about what happened to her.
Now that I’m done dragging Hawthorn let’s just talk about the novel in particular.
The whole premise is that we, the reader, are supposed to embark on this journey to find out what actually happened to Lizzie. Like all novels that start out like this (at least contemporary YA ones) I expected it to be part mystery, part coming of age story. The novel felt like it wanted and was trying to be that, but really kind of failed at both. The mystery was boring and could’ve been cut way shorter than it was. Since it’s titled The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett I expected to find little clues of who Lizzie was along the way. The whole, things are not as they seem, trope. We did, but it was underwhelming and tasteless in my opinion. The coming of age part of the story meant that you had to deal with Hawthorn’s insufferable “I’m not like everyone else and I’m misunderstood” trope and, honestly, if it wasn’t for Lizzie Lovett being missing, I would’ve DNF’d this book.
The story feels unnecessarily long. There are so many pages and scenes that I just skipped. I usually don’t like doing that because I think I might miss something important, but I made an exception. Since this is a story, every scene and every interaction should have an overall effect on the story or the character. A lot of scenes in this book felt like they were just there for no reason. I could get behind it if you’re trying to be surreal or something, but it really didn’t fit the story. Frankly, it dragged and ruined the pacing of the novel.
Now this is the point where I’m going to get somewhat spoilery–so if you, god forbid, want to read this book, stop now. Just know I didn’t like it and didn’t like Hawthorn. If you want to continue this review, know that you have been warned.
There are a few things I have an issue with.
One: The romance.
It’s shoe horned in. It felt weird and inorganic. Oh and it’s illegal. Hawthorn is seventeen, Lorenzo is twenty five. They also have sex so yay, statutory rape! Furthermore, it was a distraction for Lorenzo because he was still hooked on Lizzie Lovett, because well she’s his girlfriend. The moment that they find out what happened to her, he drops Hawthorn like a fucking rock so what a great message that is to teenagers across America. Congratulations. Even at the end of the novel, Hawthorn is asked out by her brother’s friend who is also older than 18 because by this point her brother is a three year alumni of the high school. So you know. There’s that.
Two: Girl on Girl Hate. Seriously What the Fuck?
God damn. First off, Hawthorn is incredibly jealous and hateful towards Lizzie for no other fucking reason than the fact that she exists and is apparently loved and perfect like it’s her fault. It’s ridiculous and just mean. There’s also this dynamic she has with Mychelle (minus one for trying to be edgy with her name). They are constantly going at it with each other for no reason. Mychelle is your stereotypical, shallow mean girl. She says mean things, hates Hawthorn for no other reason than to be a bully, and is completely one dimensional as a character. We’re supposed to sympathize with Hawthorn, and I kind of do, until she decides to say:
Wow, I’m being called sloppy by a girl who’s gotten wasted at parties and spread her legs for half the football team since eight grade.
What. The. Fuck.
Yeah! Great! We’re supposed to be on the side of someone who outright slut shames to combat a bully? Is that the message that’s being sent? I’m all for standing up for yourself, but slut shaming someone like that isn’t the way to do it. You’re just stooping to her level. A+ for that one, Hawthorn. Mychelle and Hawthorn never reconcile or have any meaningful development. It’s really just Hawthorn saying, “I don’t care anymore” which is almost as believable as her ridiculous theory because she’s said it so much in the novel.
Three: Suicide as a Plot Device (again).
So here’s the biggest spoiler of them all. Lizzie Lovett, committed suicide. But does really anyone care? No, not really. The only person who, strangely, seems to care all that much is Hawthorn. Which is funny… considering she never knew Lizzie in the first place. She’s constantly going over her head like, “why would she do this” “what does she have to be depressed about”. Not only is this the most insensitive way of dealing with a suicide or a suicidal person, Hawthorn–once again–makes everything about her. She’s being so melodramatic and effected by Lizzie’s suicide, but there’s no reason why! I’m going to say it again, Hawthorn never knew Lizzie! She actually spends most of the novel SHITTING on Lizzie! So why does this effect her so much?!
All in all, this novel was such a bust. There are some high notes like the family being a pretty integral part in the novel unlike a lot of YA and the hippie caravan that came in, but really that’s all the pros I can see. I came in expecting a fun mystery, YA thriller and was left with this nonsense. It was trying to be so many things that it failed at practically all of them and I wouldn’t recommend this painful experience to anyone else.
Hope you enjoyed my rant review.
So let’s start off with the books that are in the picture. Starting from the left:
Title: Crossing the Tracks
Author: Barbara Stuber
Published: July 6, 2010 by McElderry Books
Impression: I’m really intrigued by the blurb I read on Book Outlet and though I haven’t read a lot of contemporary because I tend to not like what I find, I’m willing to give this a try.