Title: The Lie Tree
Author: Frances Hardinge
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: April 19th 2016
*I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review*
Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree is the story of one girl’s quest to find her place in the world during a time when female ambition is stifled. Fourteen-year-old Faith Sunderly knows that being too clever or too curious is discouraged for any girl, but she can’t help the myriad of questions in her head that are always begging to be answered. When her father whisks his family away to the small Vane Island under the guise of joining an important excavation, Faith knows there’s more to the story. But her curiosity leads her to secrets about her family that makes her question everything she’s ever known. When she stumbles upon the Lie Tree, it’s strange properties are too much for Faith to resist, and she’s determined to use it to solve her father’s murder.
The Lie Tree starts off rather slow as it set the stage for Faith to begin her journey as her father ends his. Faith is young and is often forced to hold her tongue and suppress her need for more. Her father and mother either do not see her potential or have chosen to ignore what their daughter has to offer. It was difficult to relate to any character beside Faith as most scoff at the idea of a female accomplishing anything greater than an advantages marriage. It became very easy for Faith to investigate her father’s murder and fabricate stories without anyone noticing because everyone is prone to overlook her, but I hoped she would have gained more allies. She does develop a tentative friendship with the young Paul Clay, but both are so wary of the other that this relationship never fully blossoms. The most interesting aspect of the novel was the Mendacity Tree. It’s ability to show the consumer of its fruit the truth comes with a caveat. In order for the tree to grow, Faith must concocted a lie large enough for the entire island to believe, but lies have a life of their own and there are consequences to Faith’s actions. Still, Faith believes that her tie to the tree is an extension of her connection with her father and while everyone is ready to let him go, she is not.
Frances Hardinge’s novel is very well-written, but I would have liked to have learned more about the tree at the center of its story. Its protagonist is more likely to appeal to middle grade fans than young adult, but her story of belonging is universal.