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by Kaylie Jones
Akashic Books, July 2015
286 pages
ISBN: 1617753505

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Some of the worst lies that are told are those we tell ourselves. This is the essence of the story of Merryn Huntley, a young mother whose husband has recently died in a car crash while accompanied by his mistress. As if this isn't enough to scandalize their Dallas community, it turns out that he also had questionable business dealings that now have the FBI freezing his assets and following up on his business associates.

Seeking to shield her young daughter (and herself?) from these scandals, Merryn flees the country for San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where her mother is part of the active social scene of expats who live there. Merryn's mother has always been critical of her daughter's behavior, and never more than now, considering the mess she's gotten into.

There's more to the story at every level here, however, and that is the brilliance of Kaylie Jones's writing. She knows how to plumb the depths of self-deceit, and it's only gradually that we learn just how far Merryn has gone to hide the truth from herself about her marriage, her husband's business dealings, even her own childhood.

Things come to a head when the FBI come looking for her in Mexico, and she can no longer refuse to face the facts of her life. Above all, it is the love and responsibility she feels toward her own daughter that will lead Merryn to address all the lies she has told herself for so long. Indeed, her own young daughter's strength inspires her to do better.

This fascinating novel bases its mystery not so much on unfolding events, although these are well paced, but instead on how a person can live a life parallel to the truth, based on an ever-shifting set of lies and misrepresentations. There's real danger is remaking the truth to avoid conflict, and that is never more apparent than in this well crafted book.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, July 2015

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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