Read Remark book review - The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Book Review: The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told begins with a problem child.

She’s a problem because of her behavior. But really, the problem reaches further back. Her very existence and what it represents is the problem. The way the adults in her life handle things would be comically wrong, if not for the tragedies their actions spur.

The Lies We Told straddles two timelines. One is twenty years earlier, in which a mother struggles with said problem child. She had desperately wanted this child, longed to be a mother. But her daughter takes on increasingly troubling characteristics and actions. The mother, meanwhile, is plagued by her own mysterious past actions, wondering if they’re coming back to haunt her.

The second timeline is present-day. Clara is smitten with her fiancé, Luke. When he goes missing, Clara does all she can to help the investigation to find him, teaming up with his family and best friend. Her efforts soon lead to danger, as well as uncovering some unsavory truths about Luke.

Lies abound in this story. We know that these two timelines will eventually intersect in some way, but how? Once they do, the result is an explosion of blame and guilt.

Evil children make for interesting plot devices.

What’s puzzling is the abundance of authors who approach these children from a thriller angle as opposed to a mental health one. We focus on the bad seeds’ bad deeds and amount of suspense we can wring from the situation, rather than the (I’d argue) even more suspenseful, horror-inducing process of finding a good psychologist who’s in the insurance network.

It’s personally mystifying, also, to see the stories with “evil” children in which the parent’s approach is an “us versus them” situation. If the parent would just stay on the child’s side, even during the rockiest times, coming from a place of love and help, the story would be much different.

But that’s the crux of these stories, right? They’re meant for high drama. For shock value. After all, what could be more shocking than a precious little child (usually a girl, it seems) gone bad?

The Lies We Told bridges this gap a bit, bringing in the parent’s shortcomings and culpability in dealing badly with the problem child’s warning signs. The child herself is still insanely evil enough to raise the hackles, though, adding a nice amount of suspense and OMG moments.


The Lies We Told
Camilla Way
Published October 2018
Berkley