Book Review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
My Body, My Holding Cell
Unable to move, hearing unfamiliar sounds, her body feels heavy like she in underwater. All she knows is that she is in the hospital- unable to communicate with anyone around her. This is the nightmare that Amber Reynolds is trapped inside in Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.
As crowds of doctors come and go, some familiar voices mingle in as well of her husband, Paul and her sister, Claire.
Determined to prove that some sort of incident took place before the car accident that landed Amber in a coma, neighbors report hearing there was an argument between Amber and Paul on Christmas Eve in which somehow she had taken off and gotten into a car accident- only the scars on her body seem older than that of a recent traffic accident. Paul is eventually arrested as a person of interest, but later let go.
Amber flashes back between current events and a diary that she wrote as a child detailing her friendship with a girl named Taylor and how these events changed everything in her current life.
Unable to engage with anyone around her, Amber can still hear what is going on in her coma, and begins to not trust Paul after she learns he has been accused of somehow being involved with her accident as the scars on her face and body seem older than that produced by the car accident.
Peas In A Pod
Rivaling any unfortunate heroine of a Gillian Flynn novel, Amber describes her home life as anything but happy, her only solace is a relationship with her grandmother that is taken away after she passes.
In present day, Amber is on a morning talk show, in danger of being replaced as she doesn't get along with the other commentator that has been on the show for much longer. A friend from work, Jo, as well as her boss Matthew tell her that she can keep her job for now, and Jo comes up with a scheme to make her co-host Madeline feel she is the one to be fired.
Flashing back to the childhood diary, Amber talks of her unhappy children and her parents that were always fighting and eventually favored her sister, Claire over her although she has already gone against this statement before saying her mother could no longer have children after a miscarriage and an accident on the stairs when drunk.
Amber is envious of her friend Taylor's life and begins to imagine living there, stealing a charm bracelet that Taylor's mother had given her. Amber invents that they have the same birthday, and that they are similar looking-almost twins she writes. But there is something creepy and unbelievable in the way she talks about Taylor. Her obsession with the girl comes full circle when she becomes jealous of other girls that Taylor is friends with like a girl named Jo- after Amber spent so much of the diary saying that she fended off bullies that often preyed on Taylor for being too pretty and popular.
As the coma fantasy has Amber eventually moving away after her family has again caused shame upon themselves by her mother's drinking, Amber invites Taylor over for one last sleep over. In the middle of the night as the house burns to the ground, Amber lures Taylor outside to safety and the girl is shell shocked. An aunt who Amber doesn't like named Madeline is to inherit the house, and Amber is to go to live with Taylor's family.
Things are different now, and the perspective shifts.
After Amber's family is killed in a deliberate fire, Amber is sent to live with Taylor's family, but something in the narrative seems a miss- especially in a flash forward when the diaries are found in a attic and Paul comes across a a narrative of Claire.
Taking Over Me
She used to be known as Amber but she found the name too pretentious and started to use her surname, Taylor. At first she liked playing with Claire, they were two peas in a pod- looking somewhat similar and even had the same birthday, Claire claims.
Claire wasn't happy at home and her family was always fighting and her mother always drunk.
Taylor began to have other friends at school and Claire grew jealous, even more so when she was to be moving away so she cut off her hair one night to have a similar hairstyle to Taylor and reminded her at the last sleepover they were peas in a pod.
That they were sisters. Claire was still wearing the bracelet that Taylor's mother had bought for her, once broken and now held closed with a safety pin.
The night Claire burned the house down and killed her family, she got to be part of Taylor's family. Her parents seemed to love the replacement daughter more than the one they already had.
After the fire, Taylor was having OCD and began to pick at her skin as coping skills causing scars. She wasn't very pretty anymore and her family brushed her aside and loved Claire instead. They never knew that Claire was crazy and now trying to take her own family.
Believing herself to be the identity she took over, Amber/Taylor is the victim of her former childhood friend turned bully. Claire has taken over her family, and now her image letting the hospital believe that Amber has been in an unfortunate accident when it was Claire's driving that got her in the wreck- and left her to die in the street.
Sometimes I Lie
Sometimes I Lie is a brilliant thriller, destined for the silver screen. Akin to Single White Female, Claire has masterminded everything to get the perfect life from finding the perfect prey when they were children and getting herself adopted in the family, to taking over everything about Amber/Taylor's life.
From her coma, Amber feels she is being medically forced to stay in the hospital forever and blames an ex that is now a doctor for helping mastermind Claire's plan.
Was any of the things Claire- pretending to be Amber, true about her life? These are one of the greatest moments in writing where you have found yourself on the last page of a book staring and the final words in disbelief.
I was in a coma.
My sister died in a tragic accident.
Sometimes I lie.
It is like the greatest reveal of any horror film when you know the monster is still lurking out there somewhere.
Claire has finished off what was Amber/Taylor and is free to assume her identity forever now if she likes and go on living the pretend life that she always wanted for herself.
Feeney weaves a fine tale of a manufactured life and the lengths the lunatic will go to take it from others.