ARC Review: Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Little White Lies (Debutantes, #1)Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Little White Lies is a little snarky, a little mystery, but a lot about warm friendships and complicated family relationships. Sawyer accepts a deal from her grandmother to become a debutante in exchange for college tuition support, with a side of finding out who her biological father is. All she has is a photo of the season her mother debuted, and a food preference to go on. But soon she realizes that discovering the identity may not be as easy as she thought, as this society is determined to keep its secrets.

Sawyer’s personality is all sass and blunt, which rubs some people the wrong way. She is boyish, and has a little ‘not like other girls’ complex but her derision towards the other debutantes also is along the lines of ‘WTF rich people?’. When she saves her cousin from her bully, it forms a little clutch of girls who have some similar motives. Their group slowly grows, in between fittings, and functions, and soon they are digging into their town’s secrets, particularly who got away with what. Sawyer’s search takes her to some unpleasant revelations, as well as some warming ones. She realizes her mother’s family are the pit of snakes she was led to believe and that maybe only relying on her mother’s word led her to be estranged from them, too. She has to continuously reevaluate the complicated mother-daughter relationships in her family with respect to these revelations, and also the way these relationships can play out in different families.

The vibe of the book doesn’t really come across as mystery, actually. It opens on a comical scene where a police officer is preparing for the headache of dealing with four teen girls who seem like debutantes, sitting in his jail cell, and no one knows why they were arrested. And while the main story is playing out on Sawyer’s life from the time her grandmother finds her, to this opening scene, it is cut with that police station scene, and we get glimpses and clues of what happened to have them end up there. That part was played out so well – I didn’t expect THAT to come about from the first half of the book. I would put it more as a comedy-mystery in the theme of something like Gallagher Girls.

Overall, an engaging and entertaining mystery, but not really dark.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Freefrom, via Netgalley.

View all my reviews

Buy links

Amazon | The Book Depository | Wordery

Releases on November 6, 2018

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