Monday, August 3, 2015

Author Spotlight: Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM


Jessica Alcott lives with her husband and their two cats. She graduated from Bennington College and has worked as a children's publisher in the UK.

Title: Even When You Lie to Me
Author: Jessica Alcott
Publisher: Crown Books
Publication: June 9th 2015
Cover Rating: 5/5

Even When You Lie to Me touches on a very sensitive topic. Student-Teacher relationships are not unheard of. But most of them end extremely bad, mainly for the teacher. Sometimes people forget that teachers are people too. They make mistakes and don't always use proper judgement. I actually see no problem with a Student-Teacher relationship if the student is 17-18, they BOTH have feelings for each other and consent, and if the teacher is truly interested in a relationship and not just some creepy "I bang my students" fetish. 

Charlie is amazing. Yes, she has her flaws and faults; like how horrible she is towards her mother. But she is strong and not worried about her looks. She wants to get good grades and go to college. I don't think Drummond messed up her life, per se, but he did alter her future and how she sees herself and the world around her.

I think the reason Charlie wanted Drummond so bad was because she connected with him on an intellectual level. She didn't really have too many people in her life and, aside from her dad, none of them were on the same intellectual level that she was on. And then Charlie puts her heart on her sleeve and she gets it broken, pretty much. 

Lila is... ugh. I didn't like her at all, honestly. She was rude, not a great friend and seemed like she wanted Charlie all to herself but didn't put forth any effort to truly show Charlie that she cared. The birthday party Lila threw for Charlie is a perfect example. Leaving your friends behind for a guy and getting too caught up in drinking and sex is a terrible way to be. But that is the life of a lot of teenagers.

I liked Asha. She had some issues and was a bit snobby and presented herself as a know-it-all but she was a good person at heart. I think Asha and Charlie should have been better friends but Charlie was too worried about hurting Lila. The girl who pretty much shoved her on the back burner for a guy she kept saying she didn't like much. 

Then we have Drummond. He is the new English teacher and everyone wants him. He is pretty young and he gets swept up in trying to be his students friend rather than their teacher. He is a good guy but he might not have had the best life before becoming a teacher. We don't find out much about his past but I did get the feeling that he was trying to make up for a bad past by being the way he was with his students. 

The book touches on Feminism a few times. The one conversation between Asha and Charlie has a pretty big meaning. All the body shaming and stuff girls go through isn't all on society and men. If a guy compliments a girl and she responds with "ew, I'm ugly", "my stomach is so fat", "my arms are so fat", that just shows the guy that it's okay to think girls have to be skinny and beautiful. A lot of body shaming is actually done by women themselves.

I did have a few problems with the book. The main one being that the real 'action' didn't start until almost the end of the book. It was like a slow building anticipation for what I knew was going to happen and it took forever to finally climax and when it did my heart was broken. I hated the ending. No, it wasn't a bad ending and the authors writing is beautiful and evokes a lot of feelings from the reader(me) BUT it didn't end the way I was hoping. I can honestly say I cried a bit. All the emotions that came to light and blew up in Charlie's face were hard to ignore and not feel.

Even though I was mad about the ending I still completely loved this book. When a book can make you feel things that the characters are feeling then you know its a good book. I felt shy, embarrassed, upset, broken and many of the other emotions Charlie went through in one school year. People are comparing the author of this book to people like John Green, Sarah Dessen and Lauren Oliver. To that, I say no. Jessica Alcotts writing is nothing like theirs. It is so much better. This book feels so very real whereas the other authors books are so fabricated that I couldn't connect to them at all. Other people will feel differently about this but this is only MY opinion. 

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.



1) What was your inspiration for writing Even When You Lie to Me?

I think I was mostly inspired to write it because I'd always wanted to read a story like this, especially one that didn't end either with a happily-ever-after or a moralistic punishment, because those weren't as interesting to me. I wanted to see if I could make this story one of empowerment rather than victimization. I also probably wanted to process the hell of high school a bit – there's something cathartic about thinking about that stuff years later, when you've gotten a bit of perspective on it (emphasis on "a bit").


2) What are your views and feelings towards Student-Teacher Relationships?

Obviously, relationships between underage students and teachers are not only immoral but illegal, as they should be. Even when a student is of age, I think the power imbalance makes it extremely difficult to have an equal relationship; also, teenagers are still maturing emotionally, and there's a big difference between, say, an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old (I would not have believed anyone who told me that when I was 18, because I thought I was incredibly mature, but having come out of the other side of it, I can tell you definitively that I was not). With that said, relationships can be messy and ambiguous, and we don't always know why we're drawn to the people we are. I don't think it helps us to think that anyone who'd do something like this is an inhuman monster. We're all capable of doing bad or immoral things, and to pretend that people who do are somehow different from us only makes cartoon villains out of them, as if there are "bad people" and "good people." There aren't bad people, just human beings who do bad things (except Dick Cheney; I'm pretty sure he's Satan).


3) Are you currently working on any new books?

Yes! It's another standalone book, realistic but with some paranormal elements. It has been tough to get right, but I'm still hard at work on it (I have to say that in case my agent is reading this).


4) Why did Drummond run away when him and Charlie could have actually been together?

As I said above, I think it would have been very difficult for him and Charlie to have an equal relationship, even though Charlie does start to come into her own power by the end of the book. I think – and this is just my own opinion; I don't think I have the final say over any interpretation – Charlie's process of maturation meant that she had to be the one to let him go, and that hopefully he left because he realized that (you could also read it that he's afraid and he knows he made a mistake, so he runs away in a very immature fashion, BUT I tried to make it something you could read many different ways, as people have seemed to so far!).


5) If you could only read the same book over and over again for the rest of your life what book would you pick?

Well, I do have a book that I read over and over (which is very unusual for me), which is The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman, by Louise Plummer. I've read it every Christmas since I was in high school and it's always still incredibly smart and funny and wise about relationships (and, yes, romantic).


6) Cookies or brownies?

This is like the Sophie's Choice of baked goods. Today it's brownies, but I'll regret that tomorrow.


7) What is your favorite genre to read?

Truthfully, I probably go for contemporary/realistic more than anything else, but that said, I love plenty of genre stuff too. As long as it's a good story, it doesn't matter what genre it's in.

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