Last Girl I Lied To
Last Girl I Lied To
“Who started it?” I blurt out, unable to stop myself from asking. ‘How many times did it happen?”
Beau shakes his head. For the first time, he actually looks scared of me, and for the first time, I’m glad to see him like this. Speechless. Ruined. Lost.
“When? When did it happen? I need to know when.” I need for it to have happened before I told her how I felt. I need I need I need.
“I don’t know. Like October. I didn’t keep track of the dates.”
October. After she had listened to me that day in my car, after she told me he was a loser. A sob rises in my throat and it’s like I’m naked and exposed except worse, like my skin has been stripped off and my insides are showing. When I speak again, my voice shakes and there’s a ringing in my ears.
“Did you know she was going to disappear? Did you have something to do with it?”
He blinks repeatedly. “I don’t know. But trust me, there are some things about me you don’t want to know. I’m not the same as I was. I won’t be.”
He’s not going to tell me anything else, so I force myself to stomp down the hallway, out the front door, to my car. It feels like I have weights strapped to my ankles, tethering me to the driveway. When I open my car door, hot air puffs out, just like it did the day I met Trixie. But this time, I beat the steering wheel so hard with my fists that my hands turn red. I guess I always thought it was an accident that she was beside my car that day, that I was just in the right place at the right time to be her getaway.
But she was waiting for me. She already knew who I was. Maybe she had been waiting for days, weeks, for me to be alone out there. I’m coming to believe that there are no accidents at all.”
Fiona is a high school senior whose life has been turned upside down by two suicides. One was the brother of a friend and the other was Trixie, a girl who disappeared from a party and walked into the ocean. But Trixie was Fiona’s best friend, and Fiona can’t believe Trixie would simply end her life without any explanation for those close to her. This obsesses Fiona to the point where she begins to wonder if it wasn’t all a charade so that Trixie could simply begin a new life somewhere else. In fact, the more Fiona learns, the more she thinks that Trixie was not who she seemed to be at all but rather was living a carefully constructed life which included many lies. As Fiona traces what she can of Trixie’s last days, she gets closer to both Jasper and Beau and realizes that she wasn’t the only one to whom Trixie lied. They all feel they have been played for fools by someone who was once close to them.
This young adult novel fits into the mystery and thriller genre, and Flynn keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they try, along with Fiona, to figure out how and why Trixie disappeared or if her supposed suicide was her one last big lie to the people around her. Like any good sleuth, Fiona follows a variety of leads which she hopes will bring her closer to the truth. She does her best to understand the psychology behind Trixie’s behaviour, hoping this will illuminate her friend’s actions. Flynn manages to provide hints for her readers while not explaining the entire mystery until the very end of the story. The ultimate unraveling is unexpected and yet fits well with the facts. The story shifts from present to past and back again which adds to the suspense and interest.
The themes of friendship and relationships are front and centre in the novel, and readers begin to wonder just what constitutes a true friendship when it seems no one can be trusted and people are not always who they seem to be on the surface. In an effort to be friends, Fiona finds herself changing many of her attitudes and beliefs in order to fit in with what Trixie wants and expects. Fiona appears happy to drop other friends and long-time activities so that she can spend time with Trixie. Her disbelief is palpable when she finds that Trixie has lied about many things and treats Fiona no better than anyone else. Fiona appears to be easily influenced, and this doesn’t change much during the novel. Certainly friendships change and grow over time, but they need some sort of firm foundation if they are to survive. Suicide and grief play large roles in the book, and readers watch the psychology of various teens as they try to cope with what happens around them. Much of their coping takes the form of sex and alcohol, a reason why the book seems directed to an older young adult audience.
The teens who make up the cast of characters are, for the most part, dislikable. Fiona often comments that people are simply using their friends to their own advantage yet she also uses her friends for her own ends when it suits her. Trixie appears to be the ultimate manipulator, user and abuser of those around her. Jasper, Beau, Jenny – all seem unable to cope and become stereotyped clichés of the anxiety-ridden teenager. Relationships are based on lies and deceit, and thus the characters become shallow and self-absorbed. Self-esteem is gained by altering one’s physical appearance or sleeping with someone new or consuming more alcohol at a party. No one seems to truly grow within the events of the plot although, in the “Epilogue”, Fiona has moved on to what is hopefully a new beginning at college.
The mystery and thriller aspects of Last Girl I Lied To were interesting and appealing for amateur detectives, but the characters all seemed ‘overdone’ - too helpless, too needy, and too filled with teen anxieties to be memorable.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired high school teacher-librarian and classroom teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, Ontario.