Trust Me I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth SummerTrust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

This book is a suspense-mystery taking place in and around Chicago. Julep Dupree is a fixer at her private high school so that she can pay her way at St. Aggies in order to make it to Yale and leave the con artist life behind. She was never asked if she wanted to do cons, avoid making friends, and move around all the time. She loves her father, but his life is not for her. When Julep returns home one night to a ransacked apartment and a missing father and is left with a gun and a riddled note for a clue, Julep starts to follow the clues in order to find her father. This leads to crazy threats, stalkers, a hot popular boy who mysteriously wants to help no-strings-attached (yes, we think it’s sketchy too), and the entrance into a huge crime ring that will be tough if not impossible to get out of alive. This is more of a teens-making-stupid-decisions and thinking they’re too cool to get hurt kind of book than it is a Scandal read a-like, but Julep is indeed a fixer.

Even though you feel like you don’t know Julep all that well, she has a definite voice in the book. She is cocky, secretive, and aloof to other students’ feelings. She gets the job done, she collects money, she pays her tuition. It’s a done deal. But when people start getting involved in her chaos, Julep realizes she cares about some of these people more than she thought. She also starts to rely on them more, even though it is a huge internal struggle which makes her giving in even more delicious at the end, which, thank god is better, satisfying and makes more sense than all the other Scandal read-alike books I’ve read before.

At first I didn’t like the convoluted path that the clues lead Julep through. They seemed meaningless, and at one point they were called meaningless and I almost gave up reading the book. But I pushed past and the clues did come together in the end, just not as you imagined and you aren’t as happy about it. The action-packed plot, though, does come to a great ending. Things are still solved messily, which end up being more realistic than everything getting magically solved.

And the character development is actually the best. I didn’t think there was going to be character development in such an action packed book, but Julep does change, and a bit more abruptly than I’d like, but it still makes sense. She has a new perspective on other people’s feelings, she knows who her friends are (and actually has some now), she was able to change her life, but not in the way she originally planned, and adults do come to understand her crazed methods of problem-solving and a new “seriously warped integrity” (as Julep put it herself).  She suddenly cares about other people’s feelings. I like that she uses her experiences to help others… like telling Heather she should tell her mom about the con and actually go to university instead of trying out modeling to save her career and relationship with her mom.

She turns into a good person because of the outpouring of support (not that she really did anything to deserve it, but good things ended up happening because of the trouble she caused). It’s nice to see people get second chances from lives they weren’t exactly asked if they wanted to lead. It’s about finding your talent and using it for good instead of manipulation and money (even if it was to pay for Yale and get out of the “business”).

So even though you will feel like you fell  down the rabbit hole, this book is still worth reading, but it’s a little more dark and tough than your average Scandal episode.