________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 22. . . .February 13, 2015


Little White Lies.

Katie Dale.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2014.
371 pp., trade pbk., $14.99.
ISBN 978-0-385-067077-7.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4



“Sorry.” He smiles at me. “She’s convinced I’m her nephew.”

“I know.” I smile. “We met earlier. Why don’t you tell her the truth?”

“I tried to the first day I came here, but she got really upset.” Christian frowns. “Then a care worker told me her real nephew died in Afghanistan.”

“How awful.”

He nods. “I felt terrible the next time I visited – but she was thrilled to see me. She’d completely forgotten our conversation, and still thought I was her nephew, so now I just go with it.”

“You don’t feel bad, lying to her?”

“Is not telling the truth the same as lying?” he asks. “Is a white lie still a lie?”

I frown.

“If it’s not hurting anyone, and makes someone happy, surely it’s okay?” he asks. “Sometimes telling little white lies is the only way to protect the people you care about from ugly truths.”

“I guess so,“ I say uncertainly. “But it means you’re pretending to be someone you’re not.”

“Don’t we all do that?” He looks at me. “Even if it’s just to fit in?”

My cheeks burn. Does he remember everything I say?

“So who are you really, Louise Shepherd?” He smiles. “What’s your story?”

“Oh.” I shrug and look down at my hands. “I don’t really have one. My life’s pretty boring.”

“Don’t lie.”

“What?” I look up sharply.

“You can’t fool me,” he says.

I stare at him. Has he finally recognized me? His eyes glitter in the sunlight.

“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s cool,” he says. But don’t lie. You’re far from boring. I bet the person you write to in prison doesn’t think so either.”

“What? What do you mean?” Why would he mention that now? Does he know it’s Uncle Jim?

“Just that I think it’s really cool. Most people’s compassion wouldn’t stretch that far – not for people they don’t know. I don’t know why you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, because the real you seems pretty cool to me.”

I shrug. “We’ve only just met. You don’t even know me.”

“You don’t have to know someone’s life history to know them,” he counters. It’s what we do that defines us. I know you’re honest – you went out of your way to return my wallet when I dropped it,” he says.

“And I know you’re slightly insecure, and go clubbing just to fit in with your friends, even though you secretly have much better taste.”

I smile.


Louise Shepherd has come to university with many things in mind, but one of her main objectives is to reinvent herself. Lou is not, in fact, her real name. She quickly becomes interested in a handsome student named Christian but finds it odd that he shares so little about himself and doesn’t seem to want to party or even have a girlfriend. Something about Christian just doesn’t add up. It doesn’t take long for Lou to realize that Christian is also a pseudonym and that both of them have secrets they simply cannot share with anyone. Can they continue to live a lie and yet build some kind of lasting relationship?

     Lou is a compelling main character, and readers hear the story from her point of view. She cares greatly about her family and friends and wants to do what is best for them, yet she also has a compulsion to know the truth and act upon it. The more Lou lies, the more complicated her life becomes. Finally she must do something to end the deception. Unfortunately, telling the truth is bound to hurt someone Lou cares about. Lou must make an almost impossible decision: tell the truth and perhaps ruin the family she cares for so deeply, or not tell the truth and betray the confidence of the man she has come to love. This young adult novel is a mixture of mystery and thriller with a shot of romance added to the plot. Dale judiciously adds hints throughout the book, and every conversation and every action advance readers toward the eventual solving of the mystery. Like all good mystery writers, Dale throws in a few misleading details for her readers as well so that the answers seem tantalizingly close and yet elusive at the same time. Readers will be on the edge of their seats during arson attempts, car chases and break-ins. Cell phones, USB drives and watches with GPS units all add a modern feel to the story. As Lou figures out whom she can and cannot trust, the tension mounts until all is finally revealed in the final chapters. The book has movie-like qualities, keeping readers on an emotional roller coaster while compelling them to put together the puzzle pieces and come up with the correct solution.

      While essentially a gripping thriller, Little White Lies is also a coming-of-age novel with interesting themes. Lou realizes that every decision she makes, even the small ones, can have an unexpected impact on her and on those around her. Right and wrong are not nearly as simple as one might hope, and in the novel even the police and the judicial system are shown to sometimes err when making decisions. Lou is faced with hurting someone when the truth comes out and learns that even when the decision is undoubtedly the right one, the consequences can be difficult to deal with.

      Little White Lies is Dale’s second young adult novel and is guaranteed to please teens who enjoy the genres of mystery and thriller. We can only hope that there are many novels in the future from this relative newcomer.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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