Review: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Title: If I Lie
Genre: young-adult, contemporary
Series: N/A -- though I wish it was
Pages: 276 (ARC edition)
Published: expected August 28 2012
Source: publishers for review
Rating: 5/5

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

This is just so so good, from start to finish. I'm still having a hard time putting coherent thoughts about it together, but If I Lie made me cry, oh, once every 75 pages or so. It's gripping, and touching, and altogether beautiful in several ways. This is a book that made me feel things (All the feelings!), that made me care intensely about its wide cast of multi-dimensional characters people; all in all, this is a damn good book and I literally have zero complaints.  It and the themes and issues explored in those 276 pages brought to mind The Scarlet Letter and another novel I recently read, Speechless by Hannah Harrington, on how inaction and silence can be as harmful as telling secrets. And, however much I was initaially reminded of those novels, this is very much its own novel. Corrine Jackson is undoubtedly an author to watch and she more than proves her talent with this contemporary debut. Though I read an ARC of this, I fully plan to buy my own copy when it's available. Heart-breaking in a variety of ways, If I Lie is easily one of my best of 2012 reads.  

This book is so much more than the blurb seems to let on. It's not the same tired old highschool angst and melodrama about a girl caught in a cliched love triangle. If I Lie is anything but that. It's heartfelt and emotional. In the end, it's about hope, love, trust, family, and ultimately, what it means to be your own person. It's about growing up, moving on, and learning how to live with curveballs life can and does throw at you. Though I called the secret even before starting, the heart of the novel isn't uncovering what happened those two days before Carey shipped out, but in watching how that secret affects and continues to impact the character's life after he's gone.

 Main character and chief protagonist Sophie Topper Quinn is one of those few and far between heroines: she's strong, passionate, honorable, stubborn, flawed, and real. I absolutely loved Sophie and reading about her life, through her ups and downs, her stubbornness and her pride. This is the kind of character I can care about, root for and invest in heavily. Her voice is... real, organic -- it gets under the skin and makes you care about her and her life.  She has hopes and dreams, is an active protagonist, even if some of what she does is more harmful than goo in the long run.This book is a great example of how first-person POV can be used effectively to make a reader identify closely with the narrator. I felt what Quinn felt, her full spectrum of emotions caught me early. Her inner monologue is just so realistic and further reinforces how authentic and grounded this character is. Corrine Jackson has this characterization, voice, plot all down pat here in If I Life, and I was impressed even as tears were streaming down my cheeks, multiple times.

Though my family isn't nearly as military-oriented as Quinn's is shown to be, I do have a brother who is a Sergeant  in the Marines, and who has served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. And while, thankfully, he has never been MIA or wounded in action, the actions of the characters in this novel really hit home for me. The simple fact of not knowing where they are or how your loved one is is stressful and can lead people to do things they otherwise wouldn't. I'm not just talking about Quinn here (though her case is obviously not the same as others), but Carey's parents and friends as well. While their actions towards Quinn can be and often are abusive, I understand how it is to act out of fear for someone you love but cannot do anything to help. Corrine Jackson's skillful writing and my personal experiences makes it so that I understand them, even if I disagree with how they act. One of the best things, out of a multitude of options, about If I Lie are how human all these characters are, even the antagonists of Jamie and the Breens. They're practically alive with their flaws, mistakes, and errors. 

I picked this up this morning, intending to read a few chapters before I went to work out. I ended up pushing back my workout by several hours because I absolutely could not, and did not want to, put this down. If I Lie is compulsively readable, even as it repeatedly shatters your heart and wrangles all your emotions.  Though the ending is more open-ended than anything, I choose to see it as a hopeful finale, for Quinn, for Blake, <SPOILER> for Quinn and Blake together as a couple after the summer ends</SPOILER>. It's perfect. This is a great book. Read it and love it. I can't recommend it highly enough. Well done, Corrine Jackson. You have made a fangirl out of me with just one novel alone and I eagerly anticipate whatever else you publish.

Eventually, I did get to my gym. But first, I went to see my brother and gave him a big hug and a 'thank you' for all he has done. Though the military is far from perfect, I am eternally grateful for what they all - every branch and every individual servicemember - have sacrificed for this country.


  1. Jessie, your review made me tear up all over again! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one and the fact that you were able to connect with this book on such a personal level clearly meant so much to you and I'm glad you shared that with us. I truly loved this one as well and like you, I am simply spellbound by it. I'm still working out how to fully express and convey my awe of Corrine Jackson's writing abilities, but I think you did a fantastic job! Stunning review, Jessie! :)

    Ivy Book Bindings

    1. It's thanks to you that I read this one, Keertana! The blurb wasn't that inspiring, but your reaction to it made me realize I HAD to give it a try -- and I am so so glad I did.

      You and I both are in awe of this author! I only hope her paranormal novels are as good as this contemporary. I have faith, though, that Corrine will come through with Touched!

      And thank you so much for the compliments. I really hope my love for this shines through -- it became a book very personal to me very quickly.

      I can't wait to see what you say in your review :)

  2. Gosh, I also can't stop thinking about this book! It is SO much more then what the synopsis says. Your reviews has caused me to cry all over again. Why couldn't Blake and Quinn be together at the end? Still, at least the ending, whole story, was heartwarming. Anyways BRILLIANt review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    New follower!
    Can't wait for Corinne's next story too. Love how you crossed out characters and instead put people. ;)

    1. It really stays with you after you finish reading -- usually the mark of a very good book!
      And SPOILER -- I think Quinn and Blake will be together.. The "I love you. He says it like a promise..." makes me think they will!

      And thanks for the follow and the kind words! I will be sure to check out your blog!

  3. I adored this book! Great review(:

  4. I have nothing bad to say about this book, and that's really saying something. It's an amazing debut, and I raced breathlessly to the end, even though I have project deadlines looming over my head. It was that good.

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