“Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney, New York : Flatiron Books, 2018.
A trend has developed in recent years—psychological thrillers with big twists or reveals (sometimes multiple twists), told from the point of view of unreliable narrators, usually women who drink too much or have big secrets, often told using flashbacks, and including lots of family drama. Books in this genre can tend to seem overdone, especially if the “twist” can be seen coming early on in the book.
“Sometimes I Lie,” at first glance, seems to be just another book whose author, as her debut novel, is trying to keep up with this very trend. Psychological thriller? Check. Unreliable, female narrator? Check. She reveals herself as such within the title. Flashbacks and dismal family dynamics? Check and check.
However, things aren’t always as they first appear to be, which is exactly what comes across, in the most unnerving way, throughout the book.
The novel opens in a terrifying scene. The narrator, Amber Reynolds, a radio show presenter, wakes up in a hospital bed in London, the day after Christmas. She can hear everyone around her, but cannot open her eyes or speak. Her husband, Paul, stays at her bedside, seemingly distraught and attentive, but for some reason which Amber cannot remember, she has a mounting suspicion that her husband had something to do with the car accident that landed her in a coma.
The story’s chapters are set in a few different time frames: some are in the present tense, as Amber hears the conversations between her doctor, the nurses, her husband, and her sister Claire, some are dream sequences that offer up clues to the car accident that resulted in her coma, some following the events during the week leading up to her accident, and some are diary entries from the 1990s.
Readers of “Sometimes I Lie” will need to stay on their toes as the story takes turn after surprising turn. That is to be expected from a book whose narrator admits immediately that she “sometimes” lies. The characters are believable. Scenes become unsettling as the book progresses and the questions keep forming. The flashback chapters and the present-tense chapters are equally engaging. The pace moves quickly.
This novel is like a puzzle—except it isn’t certain that all the pieces can be trusted. Readers who enjoy suspense and thrillers will relish trying to keep up with this book’s twists and figuring out, along with Amber herself, what actually happened.
Jenna Beers is a Circulation Assistant at Graham Public Library. She can be reached at (336) 570-6730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.