Frankie Parsons is a worrier. He worries about the batteries in the smoke alarm, the amount of food in the house, whether he’ll have enough money for bus fare, and a whole host of other things. He wonders how everyone else in his life can be so blissfully content to live in ignorance about the sheer number of things that could go wrong. Ma is the only one who allows Frankie to give voice to his worries; of course, one of the things that worries Frankie most is Ma.
When a new girl arrives at school, Frankie’s life begins to change. Sydney isn’t like anyone he’s ever met. She’s bold, courageous, straight-forward, interesting, daring, and wholly unique. Her questions are terrifying and exhilarating. There is nothing off-limits to Sydney’s curiosities. But there is one question Frankie doesn’t want to answer; the one question he himself wants to ask, but doesn’t have the courage to put into words.
Comical and heartbreaking, The 10 p.m. Question is an exploration of family, friendship, anxiety and mental illness. De Goldi has beautifully drawn a magnificent and realistic cast of characters and given us a glimpse into their world. On the flap, De Goldi says she wanted to “write a book that explored profound personal difficulty amid the chaos of ordinary life…” and I believe she has truly hit her mark.
ghost44: No one ever talks about IT.
johnnyrotton: What’s “IT”?
ghost44: The things that matter. What’s at the center. People talk and talk, but they never say much. Sometimes we get close, but we rarely mention the truth.
johnnyrotton: What truth?
ghost44: That no one ever really knows anyone else.
When James Turner gets into the American Science and Mathematics Society, he sees it as an opportunity to reinvent himself. At his old school, James was nearly invisible, but at ASMA he makes up stories about his past life, letting his new peers see him as a street-fighting, car-stealing, bad-ass. For the first time in his life, James is noticed. At first it’s innocent; a couple of pranks, sneaking into his girlfriend’s room, staging a protest over the cafeteria food. But no matter what he does, or how much attention he gets, James still feels nothing and must resort to increasingly alarming antics. As his behavior becomes riskier, the line between the lies and the truth, between dreams and reality, becomes so blurred that Jame’s life begins to swing out of control.
The Secret to Lying is a thoroughly engrossing coming-of-age story that doesn’t shy away from tough issues and questions just how much we really know anyone-including ourselves.
Read-alike: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.