THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE OF LIARS by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson


Age Range: 14 & up
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In her smartly titled debut novel, Johnson looks beneath the normal veneer of suburbia to find the putrefying rot underneath. Robin, an isolated adolescent who at 15 feels “hopeless and fat,” is saddled with an appearance-obsessed mother so insensitive that she tells her daughter that her birth was “the final straw” in the dissolution of her marriage to Robin’s emotionally distant father. The light of Robin’s life is her beautiful, sexy, 23-year-old neighbor Frankie. Handsome, horny, and dissolute, Frankie, who drinks and uses drugs, cheats on his breathtaking girlfriend with Robin’s stepmother, putting the voyeuristic heroine in the unenviable position of knowing a secret she shouldn’t and giving her an etiquette problem to boot. “Nobody ever tells you if you’re supposed to let your father know that his wife is having sex with your next-door neighbor.” And Robin has her own problem with Frankie as well. Although Frankie is too careful to have sexual intercourse with a minor, they do fool around some, a titillating situation that that the sexually awakening adolescent is simultaneously drawn to and uncomfortable with. All this deception makes Robin wonder whether there is a “parallel universe for liars,” a world apart where people cheat and deceive, while maintaining everyday behavior in this one. Although mordantly funny in spots, the story is sexually graphic and encumbered by a creepy, unappealing cast of characters including the icky, insecure protagonist. Nonetheless, Johnson knows how to turn a phrase and her heroine’s voice is incisive and sadly authentic. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7613-1746-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002


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