Friends and Other Liars is an engaging novel: part mystery, part friendship tale, and part drama about finding your way through life by making peace with the past. In Kaela Coble’s intriguing debut, the author explores the lives of a group of friends and the impact that their hidden secrets have on each other.
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About the Book:
A group of friends call themselves “The Crew”–Danny, Ruby, Murphy, Ally, and Emmett. They all grew up together in the small town of Chatwick, Vermont, and vowed to remain honest, loyal friends forever. Fast forward ten years, and Ruby, who moved to New York for college and has never returned, returns to Chatwick because Danny has committed suicide.
Some of the crew are now married, some in serious relationships, but the connection is still there. Danny’s mom brings out letters Danny has left for each of the original members, and she reads Danny’s aloud. It contains an admission of his deepest-held secret, and states that each of their letters contains their deepest secret. They are instructed to reveal them to one another, or at some point, Danny has arranged for their secrets to be brought into the light. Over the next few weeks, some secrets are told, some are covered up, and some are lied about. Friendships and the crew’s individual recollections of the past are tested and tried as more is revealed than even Danny had planned.
This is an incredibly fast-paced book, I raced through it because–who doesn’t want to find out someone’s juicy secrets, even if they are fictional characters? I suppose that is a testimony to Coble’s ability to write good characters, I actually cared about some of them (particularly Ruby) and was hoping for the best for them. That said, there were some characters I didn’t care for, like Murphy, because I thought he was just selfish and wishy-washy, even after ten years. Again, that’s a sign of a good writer, because you don’t want to like or dislike every single character equally.
The tale is told with alternating points of view of some, but not all of the characters. This really works, because it is frustrating when there are too many POV characters in a book. It gets watered down and you don’t feel like you really get to know any of them. This way, we get to know Ruby really well and some of the others decently well. The point of view changes reveal some of the secrets and how, and most importantly why, the characters keep them hidden.
I really felt sorry for Danny. I felt like he got the shaft in life, like all he really needed was for someone to care about him and take him under their wing. He was so smart and had potential, and it seemed as if he was the forgotten sidekick, the one everyone relied upon for a party or a sounding board, but they didn’t care enough about him to be that true friend he really needed.
I thought the secrets could have been revealed a bit more steadily throughout the book, it seemed as if there were a couple of revelations in the beginning and then the rest were all crammed into the end. A bit too much time was spent on hashing and rehashing about Ruby’s mom’s mental illness, when really, it didn’t have as much impact on the story as the friends’ individual dramas.
This is a superb story with loads of drama, secrets, lies, and revelations. A solidly-told, fast-paced novel that will appeal to fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Lianne Moriarty.
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