The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
I got this book in hardcover off of Amazon, since it came out recently. I’ve never picked a book because I loved the author on Twitter (she also happened to be in Minnesota, so of course she and her book were amazing).
And… I’m so glad I did. Wow. 5/5 stars.
I loved the past and present chapters (hmm sounds like a book out next summer… by me…) and the psychology of the cult and its members (also that these things were not explicitly stated but implied). I was also impressed by the accuracy of the psychotherapy– the therapist in the book did textbook CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).
The descriptions were lovely. The characters were unique and vivid. The tension was *high*. I read the whole book in one sitting, in about 2 hours. So yeah, it was that good.
All the motivations and emotions were believable. There was enough revealed about what was going on that I was intrigued rather than frustrated. I did think, for a while, that things would never get better (which is why I kept reading) but the way the ending was handled was perfect. Even the inclusion of words like “groovy” to show how out-of-touch Piper was with other kids worked great– and worked a lot better than the author telling us.
The author mentioned that she was in a doomsday church/cult when she was younger and this translates to a realistic depiction of the Father’s rhetoric and the followers’ response. You not only see how much control they have over the followers, but also why the followers trust the leaders. You understand why someone would believe them. I was glad this stayed less gory than I was anticipating, especially with the intense (but very apt) cover.
I was most intrigued by the themes of this book, namely how do we determine what is real and not. How to trust memory when it is fallible. Knowing who to trust and why. Reconciling after being lied to. The idea of what makes family.
I think this is one of the best depictions of a character you don’t quite like, but have sympathy for. I didn’t like a lot of Piper’s actions, but I felt sorry for her and understood why she was thinking the way she was. I liked how she interacted with the kids and the older boys– you could tell she was caring and maternal and wanted the best for them.
There’s also a romance sub-plot which was great, especially because it was a sub-plot and didn’t become the Most Important Thing like in other stories. Nor did it take away Piper’s autonomy.
All-in-all, this was an amazing YA contemporary novel with lots of tension and the right touches of mystery, romance, and psychology.
If this sounds intriguing to you, support Megan and buy her book on Amazon here.
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