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Three Starred Reviews for E. Lockhart’s Genuine Fraud

July 05, 2017

★ “Jule West Williams is at a fancy resort in Mexico. Someone is looking for her, but she can do a pretty stellar job of taking care of herself, paying a bartender to smuggle her out in his car, then fighting back when he tries to extort more money. That’s where Lockhart’s latest novel begins. Jule was recently in London. Her best friend, Imogen Sokoloff, is dead. There’s a guy Jule likes but can’t have. Jule steals wallets in Las Vegas, NV. The teen likes how strong she feels when she defends herself. Jule was in San Francisco. She has had just about enough of Immie’s friends from Vassar. Jule was in Puerto Rico. The protagonist has a prodigious talent for memorization. Jule was staying at Immie’s house in Martha’s Vineyard. She was in New York. Jule is, above all else, a survivor. The narrative moves backward in time, constantly forcing readers to adjust their opinions of the characters and events and realign them in light of new information. While those familiar with The Talented Mr. Ripley may have a good idea of Lockhart’s ultimate destination, they’ll still enjoy the trip. The book rewards rereading, as initially inconsequential details shine brightly when you can see the whole picture. VERDICT An excellent choice recommended for teens and adults who love twisty mysteries, stories about class conflict, and tough-as-nails teen girls.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

★ “It’s difficult to describe Lockhart’s latest psychological thriller without dipping into spoilers, but here are the pertinent details: Jule, a peripatetic, athletic, superhero-obsessed teen girl is best friends with rich, restless Imogen, who recently committed suicide. When readers meet Jule, she’s lounging at a tony resort in Mexico, eating junk food and enjoying the sun. It’s clear she’s on the run, though from whom or why isn’t clear, and Lockhart strings readers along with a clever narrative gambit. In a clipped, detached tone, Lockhart tells Jule’s story in reverse, and with each step backward, she peels away juicy layers of intrigue. As the relationship between Jule and Imogen comes into focus, Lockhart explores themes of jealousy, loyalty, privilege, and origins. Imogen, who was adopted, is fixated on the idea of feeling a strong sense of identity, while Jule constantly relies on an unlikely story to explain her childhood. But can they really know each other at all? It’s a captivating, suspenseful story made all the more bewitching by Lockhart’s twisty narrative, and she constantly keeps readers guessing with unpredictable turns and eye-opening reveals. This quietly unsettling, cinematic novel is deliciously suspenseful, and while it’s slim, it packs a real punch. Teens who love to hate antiheroes will be enraptured.” —Booklist, Starred Review

★ “Can Jule recognize her own true self within the tangled story of the past year? Jule West Williams is 18, white, and an orphan, all of which she has in common with her best friend, heiress Imogen Sokoloff—or does she? Jule, an impulsive, complicated protagonist like no other, tells her story as though she were living in an adventure movie. She imagines herself a heroine in contrast to the “great white hetero hero on his fucking epic journey.” She’s proud of her strength and fighting ability, her talents for disguises and imitating accents. Outside of her fantasy life, she feels inferior to practically everyone—Immie and her boyfriend, Forrest, as well as Immie’s parents and friends from college. Starting the book with Chapter 18 and the instruction “Begin here,” Jule traces a year backward, revealing startling secrets along the way. The fast-paced plot moves among New York, London, California, and Mexico as Jule stays one step ahead of those who’ve underestimated her skills. Jule’s intense narrative frequently includes clipped snatches of dialogue with herself: “No, she had. / No, she hadn’t. / She wished she had not. / She wished it could be undone.” Her unsettling storytelling, filled with energy and a fair amount of violence, comes from deep inside her own mysterious background. This thriller from the author of We Were Liars (2014) will challenge preconceptions about identity and keep readers guessing.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review