Review: Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

 

Title: Beautiful Lies

Author: Jessica Warman

Publisher:  Walker

Beautiful Lies DIGITAL

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins-so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they’ve lived with since their parents passed away, can’t tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong-especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself? Master storyteller Jessica Warman will keep readers guessing when everything they see-and everything they are told-suddenly becomes unreliable in this page-turning literary thriller.


Review:

Wow, this book left me reeling several times, as the painstakingly developed twists and turns began to unfold.  I don’t know how to review this without major spoilers, but I am going to try, so if I am vague, it’s so I don’t spoil any of the suspense.   I finished this yesterday, and I am still trying to decide how I feel about the book.  It was hard to put down, but because the author was keeping me on my toes and only revealing bits and pieces about Rachel and Alice, I didn’t feel that I ever got to know the twins.  I learned about their history, as life-changing events in their past were slowly picked apart, but I never felt that I got to know  them.  There was an emotional distance around them that I couldn’t breach.  I also hated the ending.  Hated it!  It is dark and brutal and unforgiving, and it made me uncomfortable and depressed.

Alice and Rachel are identical twins.  They also know when something happens to the other.  If one of them is injured, the other is as well.  They look so much alike that even their aunt and uncle can’t tell them apart.  Their parents were killed when they were young girls, and their mom’s sister and her husband stepped up and took them in.  There is a history of mental illness in the family, and because of her tenuous grip on reality, their aunt refused to allow their grandmother to have custody of them, even though the girls often spent time with their grandmother.  Due to their personality clashes, their mother and aunt hadn’t spoken to each other in years, and the girls hadn’t even met their new guardians.  After a rough adjustment, they settled into life in their new home, but they never felt  that they were part of their aunt and uncle’s family.

When one of the twins disappears, the other is frantic to find her sister.  One second, she felt her sister’s familiar presence, and the next, she was gone.  Like she had never existed.  The problem, Alice was a troublemaker, always finding herself on the bad side of a situation and forbidden to see her boyfriend because of his bad influence.  The adults in her life, including the police, are skeptical that Alice has been abducted, and they all think that she’s only run away.  She does this often, so nobody is in a hurry to try to find her.  They all expect her to come home in a day or so, because she always does.  Only this time, she doesn’t.

Beautiful Lies is an engrossing read, and it was very hard to step away from the suspense.  I almost turned down lunch at the Indian buffet so I could stay home and keep reading, and if you know me and how much I love food, you’ll understand what a big deal that thought was(my stomach did win out in the end).  I was always wondering what was real and what was a figment of the protagonist’s imagination.  Her grip on sanity was questionable, and it was difficult to tell whether she was seeing something that was really there, or whether she believed that something was there.  This back and forth between questioning her sanity and  taking everything at face value kept me turning the pages.  I had to know!  Was she nuts?  Had her sister really been abducted, or did she have something to do with her disappearance.  To add to the tangled web, both sisters kept secrets from the other, and some of those secrets were huge!  As each was unearthed, a very real and understandable sense of betrayal and hurt permeated the pages. 

I loved being off balance and not really knowing what was going on.  It is only the ending that keeps me feeling reserved about this book.  Though it is a fitting end, it is not easy to read, and it disturbed me.  I did not want the story to come to this end.  If you read the book, how did you feel about the conclusion?

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Jessica Warman, Author of Beautiful Lies

Jessica Warman is the author of Beautiful Lies, which just hit store shelves.  Jessica recently dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her new book and writing influences. Check out what she has to say.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jessica Warman] Introvert w/ a wonderful life doing what I love. Born w/an itch for trouble. Mouth like a trucker. I grow on people. Crazy like a fox.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Beautiful Lies?

[Jessica Warman] Sure! The book is about a set of identical twins, Rachel and Alice, who have always had an incredibly powerful bond. When one of them goes missing, it is up to the remaining twin to figure out what happened, primarily by tapping into this bond. I’ve been told by more than a few readers that it’s a pretty scary book, which pleases me to no end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jessica Warman] My family has a strong history of what I’d suppose you’d call clairvoyance. A number of people on my mom’s side of the family have either worked as psychics or else claimed to be psychic. That being said, I’m extremely skeptical about these kinds of things, but it fascinates me nonetheless. My idea for the concept came from sorting through many of the family stories I’ve been hearing all my life, and then putting my own spin on it. Some of the characters mirror members of my own family pretty closely. As for the twins, my husband’s sisters are red-headed twins. They’re gorgeous and smart, and they also have an incredible bond – they were my inspiration for Alice and Rachel.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Rachel?

[Jessica Warman] She’s secretive, guarded, and kind.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alice would never have in her purse?

[Jessica Warman] The first one is definitely black licorice! Also, a picture of herself and her boyfriend together, and a to-do list.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Are you more like Alice or Rachel?

[Jessica Warman] I’m definitely more like Alice. I’ve always been pretty wild, especially when I was a teenager. But I’ve also mellowed quite a bit with age, to the point where I understand there’s a time and place for certain kinds of behavior. No matter what, though, I think the maniac in me will always be in there somewhere, waiting for an appropriate time to shine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jessica Warman] David Foster Wallace is my favorite writer of all time, hands down. His work – especially his nonfiction – is just the greatest stuff I’ve ever read. People talk about art “changing their life” all the time, but in this case it’s true: his writing has changed my life. It’s made me a better person. It has enriched my life in ways I never could have anticipated, and made me feel whole in ways nothing and nobody else has ever been able to do. He was a genius, and we should all support his legacy by reading his work.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jessica Warman] 1) Complete silence. I mean no noise whatsoever, not even the sound of a kitten purring, or rain falling.

2) I have to be well-rested. I’m nonfunctional if I don’t get enough sleep.

3) I have one of those e-cigarettes, even though I haven’t smoked for years. The cartridges I use are just filled with water, so I’m only inhaling water vapor, but it gives me something to fidget with whenever I need to take a little break from typing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jessica Warman] “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” by Benjamin Alire Saenz. This book… I was awestruck at the end. What he does with words is nothing short of sorcery. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful piece of art. If I ever see Mr. Saenz again, I’m going to hug him. Then I’m going to thank him for sharing this story with the world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jessica Warman] Probably “The Twits” by Roald Dahl, followed by everything else he’s ever published. The man was a magician. I recently gave my 7-year old daughter the boxed set of his complete works, and I’m having so much fun living vicariously through her as she experiences them for the first time. Even today, as an adult, reading any of his books makes me feel like I’m getting a big hug from the universe.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jessica Warman] Well, I read a lot. I read everything I can get my hands on. And as boring as this sounds, I actually really enjoy cleaning my house. I love cleaning up big messes, because it provides such an immediate sense of accomplishment. If I hadn’t become a writer, I think I would have started a crime scene cleanup company.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jessica Warman] The best way is through email. They can email me at jwarmanwrites@gmail.com, or jkwarman@hotmail.com, or they can send a message via my website, www.jessicawarman.com. They can also follow me on twitter (@jkwarman) or contact me through my Facebook page, which is just www.facebook.com/authorjessicawarman. Sometimes it takes me a long time to respond, but I truly do try to write back to as many people as possible.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Beautiful Lies from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widgets below. Available in print and digital.