Alix is in the queerest of quandaries: now that she knows there was nothing true about her true love, should she mourn or scorn her goner of a girlfriend?

Here lies Swanee Durbin.

But it isn’t until after she dies that her lies rise to the surface. Swan’s death from sudden cardiac arrest is as impulsive as she is. When her heart gives out during a routine run, our hearts go out to her girlfriend Alix.

Seventeen-year-old Swan is Alix’s first love. Alix, sixteen, has spent six weeks under her wing, her spell, her thumb. And Alix is determined to never lay their love to rest. To stay connected to her dearly departed, Alix swipes Swan’s cellphone from her room. But what Alix didn’t steal was Swan’s heart. As she scrolls through Swan’s messages, Alix learns that she wasn’t Swan’s only cellmate.

The discovery of perfidy leaves Alix feeling devastated and devalued, yet still hopelessly devoted. Ditto for Swan’s other significant other, Liana Torres, whose tenacious texts reveal that not only is she unsuspecting about Swan’s duplicity; she’s also uninformed about Swan’s death.

This puts Alix in the queerest of quandaries: should she tell Liana that the reason Swan’s been M.I.A. is that she’s… well, D.O.A.? Or should she lead Liana on the way Swan led Alix on, and make her think that Swan is alive and kicking Liana out of her life?

Phone in hand, Alix decides to do the write thing. Which turns out to be the wrong thing. When Alix and Liana finally meet, Alix tells Liana the truth: the hole truth, that is, omitting the part where she’s been posing as their poseur of a paramour.

As the girls commiserate, they begin to realize that their shared so-called soul mate was hardly their true love. They also begin to realize that they are more than mutually bereaved and deceived. They are mutually attracted to each other.

But as her feelings for Liana mount, Alix worries that her own indiscretion will be insurmountable. Is Alix just as bad as Swan? And if she comes clean, will Liana forgive her? Or let their relationship lie?

In all honesty, this book is a riveting read. The author’s affection for her characters cinches our concern for them as well. The prose is blunt and straightforward, expertly evoking the voices of teenaged girls. From the first page to the last, the novelist tells a story of perception, deception, and misconception with perfection, not to mention authenticity.

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but Julie Anne Peters’ fiction is no stranger to truth.

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