Thursday, December 17, 2020

Book Review: A Million Little Lies

By Sara Steven


A lifetime of lies, and a truth too painful to tell.

When Suzanna Duff was ten years old, she lost her mama, and that’s when the lies began. At first, they were just harmless little fibs, a way to hide her unbearable loneliness and the truth about a daddy who came home rip-roaring drunk every night. But in time, the lies grew bigger and now, when she is a grown woman with a daughter of her own, they threaten to destroy everything she loves.

The irony of this situation is that Suzanna never planned to stay in Georgia, she was simply passing through, looking for a fresh start in New Jersey. Attending that wake with her daughter Annie, was a fluke. An opportunity to enjoy a free meal. It should have entailed nothing more than a solemn nod and a brief expression of sympathy but, Ida Parker, the grieving widow mistook her for her the granddaughter who was carried off as an infant. Too embarrassed to do anything else, Suzanna played along. What harm was there in pretending to be someone else for a few hours? Hours turned into days and days into weeks; strangers became friends, love happened, and before long a year had flown by.

Now the past is standing on her doorstep and Suzanna must decide to leave here and disappear as she has done before, or tell the truth and break the hearts of those she loves most.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

There is an ambiguity to A Million Little Lies, a continual question on who Suzanna Duff really is. In fact, there were parts to this story that made me question whether Suzanna really is the missing granddaughter, considering she had been carried off and had moved away when she was a baby. There are underlying questions that are always central to this story, questions that pertain to Suzanna’s sincerity, on whether Ida will ever really know the truth, if it even matters. It made for a continual fascination with the human condition.

Suzanna is not typecast as the perfect protagonist. The fact that she would crash a wake in order to score free food for herself and for her daughter shows stark contrasts in what motivates her. On the one hand, she knows it’s wrong, yet she would do anything for her daughter, Annie, even if that means eventually posing as someone else in order to ensure that Annie has an opportunity to live a better life than she’d been given. It takes an impeccable wordsmith to invent a character you endear yourself to, even in the moments where the character isn’t making the best choices- yet, Crosby has done that and done it well. We can identify with and understand where Suzanna comes from, and we want what she wants, we want the security and safety that Ida can provide her.

For Suzanna, the gradual descent into Darla Jean, Ida’s granddaughter, is impressive. Both personalities are displayed, Suzanna and Darla Jean. At times you don’t know for sure who is who or whether she has become a blending of the two, and that’s where readers might begin to question Suzanna’s background, considering not much is known and it is possible that names could have been changed, that maybe Ida’s Darla Jean really is Suzanna. I love how various characters give us their journeys along the way, and when her past begins to catch up with her, I was in suspense. Will Suzanna eventually get caught?

The central theme within A Million Little Lies focuses on love. How love will propel someone to do anything and everything in order to protect, how love can help others forgive, or how misguided love can cause someone to become obsessed and push out all thoughts of reason. In the end, it’s really about love, and given how well it's written and how deeply intricate it gets, I love Suzanna’s story. It’s another five-star success for Bette Lee Crosby!

Thanks to Bette Lee Crosby for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Bette Lee Crosby:

No comments: