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Picking up The Lies We Told from my mum's bookshelf the synopsis on the back page had my attention immediately. The only thing holding me back from turning the pages there and then was the reference to similarities being drawn between Diane Chamberlain's style of writing and that of acclaimed author Jodi Picoult. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Picoult and I enjoyed the one book of hers I have read, but I haven't rushed to read the others. The style of writing whereby the author alternates between several characters can either work really well or struggle to hold the reader's attention.
In Picoult's case it works but didn't really appeal to me, in Chamberlains case the characters alternative between Maya and Rebecca, two sisters orphaned in their teens who grow up to be highly educated members of society. The idea of just the two characters is much easier to keep track of and works very well. So Maya is a paediatric orthopaedist whilst Rebecca is a physician working for Doctors International Disaster Aid (DIDA), an organisation which flies out to natural disasters to assist in the recovery mission during the aftermath.
As teenagers the girls witness their parents being murdered on the grounds of their property and Rebecca seeks to protect Maya from Children's Services, instead bringing up her younger sister by herself. At 14 and 18 the girls struggle but come through to be the women they are today.
Maya, married to Adam an anaesthesiologist, childless due to several miscarriages the couple long for children, with Adam wanting his own child, whilst Maya is prepared to consider other options and Rebecca being fiercely independent and non-committal.
The story starts with Maya losing her 3rd child conceived with Adam. Devastated by their latest tragedy the couple have been slowing drift apart and when a local disaster strikes Adam joins Rebecca on a DIDA mission 3 hours away from their home in North Carolina.
The story continues with Chamberlain highlighting the perceived differences between the two sisters, with Rebecca being the strong, ambitious thrill-seeking sister, whilst Maya is fearful, content and happy in her steady employment and family life, despite being marred by tragedy, until Maya decides to prove her commitment to her husband and joins the two on their mission with emotional consequences.
This book is good, there are 498 pages of gripping storytelling; page by page Chamberlain keeps the reader hooked with twists at points where you are just getting to a point where you think you can second guess what happens next.
Maya meets Simmee, a 17 year old girl, heavily pregnant and living on Last Run Island, an Island Maya find herself stranded on after an aeroplane crash which sees her, the only survivor. Overcoming her many fears Maya and Simmee become close and learn a lot from each other throughout the duration of the book. The relationships Chamberlain builds up are believable and realistic; she explores the differences between social status, race, beliefs and circumstances, abuse and family; Almost comparing the differences within Maya and Rebecca's narrative of the story.
Adam is built into the books between both women's accounts, but doesn't have his own chapters. This works well. Should Adam narrate I think it would confuse the story and be adding one to many into the equation.
I was drawn to all of the characters in this book, preferring Maya to Rebecca, but I could understand if someone preferred Rebecca to her sister. Adam is a likable character throughout. He is consistent and brings some light relief to what could otherwise be quite a dark and gloomy story.
If you like a warm hearted read with morals and page turning twists, you will love this book. If you are into day to day women's fictions you may not like it so much.
I devoured this is a week. Retailing at £7.99 it can generally be found in superstores at a cheaper price and is currently on Amazon for £4.99 or from 1p in the new and used section.
The front cover appears to vary from retailer to retailer. The version I have show's two girls from the knees down stood on a docking station next to a river, whilst others show two girls holding hands against a blue background.