If you liked the DUFF, or any of Keplinger’s other teen books, then you’re bound to really enjoy Lying Out Loud as well. It takes place at Hamilton High, brings back cameos from characters in previous books, is another of Kody’s literary retelling (Cyrano De Bergerac), and has all the snappy dialogue and pathos one expects from her work. The book is easy to read, has some genuinely funny moments, and balances the darker aspects of teen life with witty observations. Fans of the movie will enjoy that Wesley and Bianca are in several scenes throughout the book since one of the main characters is his little sister, Amy.
Story: Sonny and Amy have been inseparable friends since they were little. While Amy comes from the well-to-do Rush household, Sonny’s family was less stable: father is in prison and mother is very flakey. Because of her situation, Sonny has learned to lie convincingly to protect herself from hurt. But when lies get in the way of (and between) her friendship with Amy, Sonny is going to have to face some hard truths and come clean. Because pretending to be Amy so she can secretly communicate with the cute new boy in class (who has a crush on her best friend) is never going to end well for anyone. If only it didn’t feel so right in the moment!
A chunk of the book is the very cute instant message communications (via phone and computer) between Sonny (pretending to be Amy) and Ryder. Most everyone thinks he’s either pretentious or a hipster (he complains constantly that Hamilton High is beneath his old school in DC). But Sonny ‘gets him’ (and his situation with divorced parents) and he ‘gets her’ (she can finally tell someone the truth about her frustration with her mother – even with the irony of the lie pretending to be Amy). But Amy is too honest to let this go on and their fracturing relationship mirrors the one in the DUFF between Bianca and her friends. Amy is both jealous and frustrated; Sonny wishes for once Amy realized how much she has, even Ryder.
The cover image is an accurate representation of the story. Each character looks like they are supposed to – with Ryder (who is half African American) on the left, Sonny with blond curls in the middle, and Amy on the right. Their personalities are very well portrayed as well – from Ryder’s hipster roots (his parents are politicians) to Sonny’s limited basic wardrobe. I always appreciate when the cover gives us an accurate visual representation of the story.
Characters from other Keplinger books: from a funny scene with Whitley and Nathan from A Midsummer’s Nightmare to Lissa and Cash from Shut Out. But it is Wesley (Amy’s older brother) from The DUFF who gets several scenes in Lying Out Loud. He grew up with Sonny always being around so he can give his own observations to the situation with Ryder and Amy – and help bring the girls back together.
In all, it was an enjoyable ready and I did laugh out loud in several places. Great for fans and also for those who are just starting out with Keplinger as well (no advance knowledge of the other books needed). Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.