Title: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black
Author: Emily Barr
Published by: Penguin
Publication date: 11th January 2018
Pages: 288, paperback
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .
Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.
And realises her life has been a lie.
Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.
But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .
This is another 2018 release I have been anticipating for months! I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book: maybe the story of Ella’s struggle with her darker, alternate personality (‘Bella’), or a thriller novel. In reality, The Truth and Lies of Ella Black struck me as a coming-of-age story, which was completely unexpected and very welcome!
I adored the writing in this book! I loved the setting and, as someone who has never been to Brazil, I thought the detailed and vibrant descriptions were really lovely and added to the amazing atmosphere of this book. The story itself was also very well paced, and the good momentum really helped to string the events together! This book was packed with adventure, and there was never a dull moment, but I never felt that too much was going on at any given point.
Ella was such an interesting character, and I thought her narrative was excellent! Having read The One Memory of Flora Banks, I already knew that Emily Barr is great at writing unique and memorable protagonists, and Ella was no different! The ordeal she went through, and the struggles she faced, proved her to be an extraordinarily strong character, and she was really someone I could root for!
I found Ella’s inner conflict really fascinating – throughout the book, Ella is fighting with ‘Bella’ (meaning ‘Bad Ella’), a part of her subconscious that urges Ella to do dark and dangerous things. There were three major plot lines in this story, and I felt that the first two (Ella ‘finding herself’ in Rio, and the secrets of Ella’s identity) were tied together perfectly with this one. All the other pieces in Ella’s life began to fall into place as she learnt to cope with ‘Bella’, and I thought this really helped the flow and feel of the story!
The only things keeping this from being a five-star read for me was firstly, that the romance subplot felt very unrealistic, and slightly unnecessary (although I did think they were adorable together). I also just wish that there had been a bit more of a resolution regarding Ella’s split personality, as I personally felt that it was left rather unfinished. However, I am giving this book four stars, because I really did love it and enjoy reading it!
I can really see this book being made into a film; even as a book, there was something very cinematic about it. It really is an epic story, and I was completely invested in Ella’s journey and character development. I have been seeing some mixed reviews about this book, but personally I loved it, and would really recommend giving this book a read when it comes out next week!
This is another one of the ARCs I received at YALC in the summer (so a big thank you to Penguin for giving it to me!).
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