The Truth and Lies of Ella Black
Author: Emily Barr
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publication Date: January 11th 2018
Format: Paperback (288 pages)
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 . . .
My Rating: ★★.5
I was really looking forward to reading The Truth and Lies of Ella Black after absolutely adoring The One Memory of Flora Banks last year but this one didn’t quite live up to my high expectations. It was a book of two halves for me and here’s why!
There were elements of this book that I found to be really tense and I could really feel the suspense building after Ella is whisked off to Brazil by her parents and we are hyper aware that they are hiding something from her. The secret itself was fairly predictable but there were some twists and turns along the way that kept some level of suspense. I also really loved the Ella/Bella dynamic straight from the beginning of the book and was really intrigued but it didn’t seem to lead anywhere in particular although it was written to feel like it would. Maybe this was just me!
The reveal of the secret is what then triggered this book to spiral a little out of control in terms of being unrealistic. I really can’t say much without spoiling it, which I don’t want to do, but Ella made a number of decisions and managed to do a number of things that the majority of teenagers wouldn’t even dream of, let alone actually be able to carry out. The instalove was just TOO much for me and the chapters were SO long – some of them were over 50 pages! (I did read a proof, so maybe this is different in the final book?) I also just didn’t particularly like Ella, she was really selfish and seemed to just moan about everything. It was hard work reading this from her POV.
I really did love the setting, however. Brazil is such a vibrant country and I really loved the descriptions and being able to visualise Ella’s surroundings.
I think it’s important for me to warn potential readers that there is animal abuse at the beginning of the book. Unfortunately this act is also sort of justified by mental illness and that didn’t sit well with me at all. I felt really uncomfortable with it and it seemed really unnecessary to the story.
I’m absolutely sure that some readers will really enjoy this, but there were too many little things that just jarred with me along the way.
Thanks to Penguin for my advanced copy in exchange of a fair and honest review.
Have you read The Truth and Lies of Ella Black? What did you think?
Is it on your TBR?