Friday, July 2, 2010
Tell Me Lies: Patrick Cooper
I'm not gonna lie, I sometimes pick out books based on their covers. Tell Me Lies was one such find. I'm a hippie at heart, so I was intrigued by this book cover and the flap that describes a story about 1969 and an enlightenment driven commune.
So this is usually the paragraph I dedicate to explaining the story. Except I have no idea where to start! Because this book is about so much more than a guy named Stephen who has some Interesting Experiences. It is about Truth and Love and Community. It is about personal truth and a little bit about personal enlightenment. It is about knowing who you are and what you want and where you belong. All of this is expressed through the story of Stephen, a young English man in 1969. He's the son of conservatives, and has a brother, Rob, who has wrapped himself in anti-war activism. At first, Stephen has a Plan. He is going to work at the pub and live at home until he does whatever he's going to do. All well and good (and dull), until he visits Rob in London. It's kind of like Stephen suddenly realizes there's more to life than living at home. And so begins a Journey. He falls in love and gets his heart broken, he meets a lot of hippies, he does a fair amount of drugs, he seeks enlightenment, he joins a commune, and he falls in Love For Real. Actually, a Lot happens. Too much to recap.
I liked this book. It was a lot to take in, but that's how life goes. Underneath all the things that happen, there is an underlying theme of Stephens search for purpose, which is such a universal experience. Aren't we all searching for a place to belong and feel important? And the way Patrick Cooper writes, I had no problem identifying with Stephen. He's just an ordinary bloke, totally accessible.
My chief complaint about this Young Adult novel is that for a book about Truth and Lies, it takes awhile to get around to how important the truth can be. It's not until the very end of the book that Stephen is forced to question who has given him Truth and who has given him Lies. In fact, until the last two or three chapters, I didn't have any idea what the title referred to. Also, I'm not sure how "young" is appropriate. There is a lot of content in this book that would not be appropriate for middle readers, and maybe even some of the more immature high schoolers. However, I think that most adults would appreciate this novel, if only because Stephen is so accessible.