Monday, October 4, 2010
The Girl Who Cried Wolf
by Justine Larbalestier
Let me start by stating this is not the type of book I would normally enjoy. Written in colloquial speech (here an inner-city teen) and presented as a direct confession to the reader, the writing is far from the eloquent prose that I am accustomed to typically reading. However, the story is so well-constructed that I barely even noticed.
The premise is quite simple: Micah, our narrator/confessor, has been accused of murdering Zach, the most popular boy in school. At first, we are told that they were only classmates, but over time it is revealed that not only were they friends, but they also shared a secret love affair, though Micah consistently denies this when pressed by her parents, counselors, and Zach's girlfriend, Sarah. We, the readers, are the only ones meant to know the entire truth, which is given to us in snippets, as the narrative goes back and forth from before and after the murder.
Things are not entirely clear-cut, however, as we're told from the beginning that Micah is known for her lies. On her first day of high school, she claims to be a boy, and when it is discovered that she is a girl, she says instead that she is intersex. She also tells her classmates that her father is an arms dealer, among other things. Knowing her character, it becomes difficult for the reader to believe her story, especially as it becomes increasingly far-fetched. I won't say much about what is revealed later, though I will state that it involves the supernatural.
By the end of the book, I was entirely unsure what to believe. Was Micah simply spinning an elaborate lie? Or did all of this really happen, regardless of how fantastic it might seem? I believe this uncertainty is a testament to Larbalestier's ability to create a truly unreliable narrator, which she succeeded in so doing brilliantly, and it is for that reason alone that I must recommend this book.