Characters Are NOT What They Seem

You have heard the saying about how you cannot tell a book by its cover.  I know I have been fooled more than once by selecting a book based on the artwork or it’s title.  The same reasoning can be applied when judging people.  What you see on the outside may not be a clear indication as what is inside that person.  Such is the case in One Perfect Lie (2017) by David Bell.

Chris Brennan is new to town.  He is one good looking, well-dressed man.  He is also a liar.  He is not all what he appears on the outside.

Chris has just been hired as the new government teacher and assistant baseball coach at Central Valley High School located in Pennsylvania not far from Philadelphia.  He wowed the search committee and principal with his credentials.  Not a single word of it was true, even his name.

Brennan hit is off with the students and most of the staff.  He sets his sites on three of the teens who are members of the baseball team.  All three have baseball along with a home life that is somewhat fractured. Raz is a loner whose father as died.  Evan is spoiled rich kid.  Jordan is being raised by his mother.  That knowledge could come in handy to the wrong person.  It could lead to easy pickings by someone who is not what he seems.

Before you all panic, this is not about a pervert chasing after young boys.  I will admit I was a bit concerned a I turned the pages.  I was about to put down the book because of the way Brennan was manipulating the boys.  This tale turned into something quite unexpected.

As Chris gets to know the three boys, he also connects with their parents.  Susan Sematov, recently widowed, has been left the job of raising her two boys alone.  Raz, the youngest, is having a difficult time with the loss and has become withdrawn plus having flares of temper.

Evan Kostis, the rich kid of the three, appears outwardly to have the most stable family situation of all the boys.  His mother Mindy and surgeon father have been dealing with marital issues.  She is doing her best to pretend they are living the perfect life.

Heather Larkin knows how hard it is to be a single parent.  She has been doing it for 17 years and knows Jordan is a great kid.  Heather is thrilled that Jordan has made the varsity baseball team.  She is sure it will open all kind of doors for him.

Chris plays his part perfectly.  The boys begin to trust him as do many of the adults.  All you have to do is figure out is who it is that is up to “no good” in their community.  And, what is being plotted.  How are the boys involved, if they indeed are part of the “no good” plot?

I found One Perfect Lie a fast read, filled with tons of action, suspense, and secrets being kept.  It should keep you reading until you discover just what is a ripped from today’s headlines.  If that is your thing, be sure grab your copy from Tanglewood’s library book shelves.

Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) by Delia Owens also follows a character who is shunned by most everyone in the tiny fictional North Carolina seaside village of Barkley Cove.  But, let it be known, this young woman is not all what they think.

Kya, often called the “Marsh Girl”, is the subject of rumors.  Why?  Basically, because she lives in a swamp, cannot read, and is a shack-living child of poverty.  It was in 1952 when Kya was just six-years-old.

Her back story is not a pretty one.  Kya was the youngest of five kids born to a man “who had two settings:  silence and shouting”, enjoyed drinking, and was mean.  Ma was different.  Full of life and usually awoke with a smile.  Kya often did not understand the meanings of her mother’s words but just figured “Ma’s words need somewhere to go” so Kya listened.

One morning Ma walked out the door never to be seen again.  Then one by one the older siblings left.  Jodie, who was nearest in age to Kya finally gave up and walked out.  It was just Kya and Pa.  By the time Kya was 10 even that did not last.  Pa just stopped coming back to the shack.  Kya was left alone.

As a keen observer of those around her, not just humans, but animals, the weather, and all of nature, Kya may not know the way of the world but she is very self-reliant.  She does know the way of the swamp.  She uses her knowledge and finds a way to live off the land.

One of her early trips out in Pa’s boat alone Kya realizes she is having a problem and has lost the way back home.  That is when she meets 14-year-old Tate Walker and a friendship develops.  He comes often, teaches her how to read, and often brings her old books.  Over the course of time, the two fall in love.   Kya is around 15 and Tate goes off to college. The feeling of abandonment once again washes over Kya.

On one of Kya’s trips in town when she is 19, Chase Andrews, the playboy of Barkley Cove, spots her and wants to get closer to her.  He comes often to her home but for over a year his advances are refused by Kya.  She has absolutely no idea Chase is a womanizer and is unaware of what he does while away from her.

Tate comes back into her world and apologizes about leaving her.  Kya has done research on her own and Tate take notice.  He suggests she submit her findings for publication.  As a result, she becomes a published author.  Her brother Jodie sees her book in a store window.  Jodie returns to the swamp and encourages her to give Tate another chance.

So, so much is found between the pages of the novel.  Kya has a lived a lonely life by most standards.  But she has had a full life in many ways.  She remains hopeful throughout this tale.

If you are a nature lover, read Where the Crawdads Sing.  Whether you know anything or nothing about marsh life along the coasts, read this book. If you just want to read a book about a lovely, intelligent young woman, read this book.  And for all of mystery lovers out there, those who enjoy a courtroom drama, or those who just like a good read…READ this book!

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