Book Review: Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

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Title: Trust Me, I’m Lying
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summer
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 14th 2014

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Trust Me, I'm LyingTrust Me, I’m Lying
Mary Elizabeth Summer
Delacorte Press, October 2014
ISBN 978-0-385-74406-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

 Julep Dupree. Now, is that a great name or what? The only thing that doesn’t *quite* ring true is that, for some reason I can’t identify, I expect to find a girl with a name like that doing her grifting in the South or maybe the Southwest but that’s no matter. After all, any canny con artist knows you don’t use your real name if you want to be good at what you do. She and her father took me right back to my imagination of the Great Depression and its scammers even though they’re very much in today’s world.

Julep’s ethics may be on the shady side—she’s a schemer and a scoundrel, no doubt, although a loveable one—but she’s also a teen who needs her dad and will do anything she possibly can to find him when he goes missing. The cops probably aren’t going to be all that interested in locating a con man but she has help from a few friends and classmates, among them  partner in crime and bff Sam, hot guy in school Tyler, and clients Murphy and Heather. These kids stick by Julep through all the mayhem that’s to come.

Mystery mixed with a very smart girl and her very smart friends, a dollop of romance, a dash of humor and a hefty helping of hurt make for an entertaining and intriguing story but, amongst the lightheartedness, there are serious issues including kidnapping, murder and other organized crime activities. Ms. Summer has managed to keep them all in balance and the result is a tale of puzzles and sadness and I hope to see more of Julep in future books.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.

An Excerpt from Trust Me, I’m Lying

CHAPTER 2: THE GEEK JOB

“Hey, Julep. Got a sec?” Murphy Donovan—a soft, bespectacled nerd from my biology class—stops me before I get very far.

“You happen to have a decent cup of espresso on your person?” I say.

“Not on me, no.”

“Then if you want to talk, you’ll have to walk me.”

He falls into step like a well-trained puppy, but he seems to need a little prodding in the talking department.

“So is this a social call?” I ask.

“No. That is, um, I’d like to”—he lowers his voice and looks over his shoulder at the students flitting hither and yon around us—“hire you.”

“I see. How can I be of service?”

“I want you to get Bryn Halverson to go to the fall formal with me,” he all but whispers.

I consider his request as I shift my bag. I could do it. Easily, in fact. All it takes is a modified fiddle game. My brain is already spinning the con, assessing resources, gauging the mark. But I’d like a little more information before I take the job.

“The Bryn Halverson?” I say. “Head JV cheerleader, homecoming court, failing Spanish—that Bryn Halverson?”

“She’s failing Spanish?”

“Focus, Murphy.”

“Yes, her,” Murphy answers.

“Do you mind if I ask why?”

He drops his gaze to his hands. “I like her,” he mumbles.

“You and every other straight, red-blooded American male,” I say, more truthful than kind. I don’t need to drag this out of him. I can do the job without it. But how I approach the job affects him, and understanding his motivations lets me know how far I can go.

“I liked her before. I’ve liked her since middle school, when she had braces and frizzy hair and was whipping all our butts at algebra.”

I sigh and give him a sympathetic look. I’m going to take the job, of course, but I’m not thrilled about it. Not because I’m opposed to manipulating Bryn, but because I already know Murphy’s going to get trampled. And since Murphy’s a tech-club buddy of Sam’s, Sam is not going to be pleased if I help Bryn break Murphy’s heart.

“Honestly, Murphy, it would be easier if you just wanted the social status.”

“So you’ll do it?”

I nod reluctantly. “Yes. But you’ll probably regret it.”

“How much?”

“Depends on how much you like her.”

“No, I mean—”

I wave him to silence. “I know what you mean,” I say, calculating the fee in my head. What is the going rate for breaking somebody’s heart? This is one of those questions that make me reconsider my line of work.

“Five hundred. Cash. Plus the standard proviso.”

“What proviso?”

“You owe me a favor.”

“What kind of favor?”

“The kind where you don’t know what it is until I ask it,” I say, pausing at the door to the Ballou. “If it’s any comfort, it’s usually something pretty tame, and generally in your area of expertise.”

Murphy mulls over my terms for all of half a second before forking over the cash. I’d never pay that much for a school dance, but then most of the students at St. Aggie’s have money to burn. Even worse is the threat of an unspecified favor to be called in at a later date. But I’ve never had anyone protest. I guess that’s what comes of having unlimited access to whatever you want—when you need something you can’t get, you’re willing to put everything on the line. Maybe the opportunity to confess your undying love is worth it. I’ve never felt that way about anyone, so what do I know?

“When should I ask her?” he says.

“A week from tomorrow,” I answer as I open the door. “That gives us time to lay the groundwork, but still gives her a few days to buy a dress. Assuming she doesn’t have a closet full already.”

“What if she says no?”

“You should be more worried about her saying yes.”

He gives me a confused look.

“I’ll take care of it,” I say, stepping into the warm glow of the Ballou.

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About the Author

Mary Elizabeth SummerMary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. TRUST ME, I’M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.


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