by K.A. Tucker
Read: October 9 - 10, 2013
Published: June 11, 2013 by Atria Books
Source: NetGalley - THANK YOU!
Category: Contemporary New Adult
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths book 2 (Companion series)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents' tragic death and Kacey's self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would...and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.
Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?
As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows. (From Goodreads)
One Tiny Lie is the companion sequel to Ten Tiny Breaths. Where the first book was about Kacey's road to healing after her years of closing off her emotions after her parents died in a drunk driving accident, this time it's her sister Livie's turn in the spotlight. While Kacey fell apart after the accident, Livie has remained strong and dependable. She has always had a solid plan for her life, including going to Princeton for college and becoming a doctor. The summer before Livie leaves for college, she's positive that everything is on track for her future.
Although Livie recognizes that she is straight-laced and introverted and the thought of even talking to a hot guy makes her break out in a sweat, she thinks her life is good and that she's dealt with any lingering issues about her parents' death. But Livie's sister Kacey, and the infamous and unconventional Dr. Strayner (if you've read Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Kacey's psychiatrist), think differently. Dr. Strayner begins to encourage Livie to get outside of her shell and experience life in an effort to challenge herself.
While I liked the overall message that Dr. Strayner was trying to get across to Livie, I had a huge problem with his methods. He literally suggests to Livie that she should loosen up and enact a 'Girls Gone Wild Video" when she arrives at college. Strayner, and especially Kacey continually insinuate to Livie that she needs to start drinking excessively and having sex in order to be normal. I am strongly opposed to that message being pushed on anyone. Although I recognize that Livie needed to grow up and face some major self-discovery, I was sad to see how much she changed as a person to get there. Perhaps I wouldn't have been as bothered by this message if I hadn't recently read Fangirl, which is also about an introvert with intimacy issues. But in that book, the MC grows in the story without undergoing a major change to her person. I realize that they're not the same people or stories, and I'm not judging the fact that Livie gets out of her shell, goes to parties and discovers boys. But I did not like the fact that other people kept telling Livie what she needed to do to become "normal" in college.
Because of that message, One Tiny Lie did not start off well for me. In fact I was solidly angry at this book for the first 30%. But I seem to have the inability to DNF, so I kept going despite that. My other major problem at the beginning of this story had to do with the (main) love interest Ashton, with whom Livie has a drunken bonding experience when she arrives at Princeton. Livie finds out quickly that he is unavailable, but of course she can't seem to stay away from him. Although Ashton is hot and he and Livie have great chemistry, cheating is a deal breaker for me. I immediately wanted to dismiss him as a philanderer and get naive Livie away from him. Even though it's clear from the beginning that there's more to him than just a player, we don't know what's going on for quite a ways in the story, and it was hard for me to fully warm up to him before then. In general, I have trouble trusting characters when I know they're keeping big secrets for most of a book. When we do learn everything going on with him, I felt really terrible, but I still had trouble with the cheating. I know that many people were able to completely overlook it, and loved Ashton from the beginning, but it was still hard for me.
These aren't just issues on Ashton's part. When Livie finds out that Ashton is unavailable, she begins to date his best friend Connor. Connor is much more of the guy that Livie knows she "should" fall for, but despite that there isn't ever much chemistry with him. It's also clear that Connor isn't ever truly a competitor. What I mean is that though this book is set up like a love triangle, I never really saw it as that. Honestly, the triangle was minor in my list of complaints. I was more concerned with the cheating than worrying that Livie's heart was torn between two guys. As the story went on, I did feel sympathetic towards Livie and could understand that she was naive and confused. But some of her deliberate choices bugged me.
Despite my frustration with this story, I still finished it and was pretty glued to it, which definitely says something about K.A. Tucker's ability as a writer. I liked the overall message Dr. Stayner was trying to get across to Livie, and I liked her growth, and realization that failure is part of life - though I maintain that she didn't need to change so much to get there. I did mostly end up liking Ashton, despite my hesitation for a lot of the novel. But it took me too long to warm up to him. When I read a romance, even an issue driven romance, I want to feel more butterflies and swoon, than the tears of frustration I felt for a lot of this book. That said, I have several friends who loved One Tiny Lie, so maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did.
Love Triangle Factor: Medium (or mild masquerading as medium to high)
Cliffhanger Scale: Completed story. Second in a companion series. Next book is Four Seconds to Lose and it features club owner Cain, whom we've met, and a girl named Charlie. Despite everything, I'm still interested in that book.