Truth and Other Lies, a contemporary, multi-layered debut novel by Maggie Smith, grabbed me from the first page with an intriguing plot that takes on complex issues facing women in their overlapping professional, political, and personal circles.
The engaging story is told through the eyes and experiences of Megan Barnes, a young journalist whose early professional success in New York City had come crashing down when she lost her job and her boyfriend in dramatic fashion - on the same day. She limps home to suburban Chicago, where, thanks to her domineering mother Helen, she feels only slightly better. Meanwhile Helen, whose political views are the polar opposite of Megan’s, has been recruited to run for Congress, much to her daughter’s chagrin.
A reunion between hometown best friends sets off a chain of life-altering events, including a chance meeting with a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jocelyn Jones which catapults Megan into the big time. The ascent seemed too fast, too fabulous to be true, but Megan has little choice but to believe it. Her honeymoon doesn’t last long. An anonymous tweet brings both her admiration for her heroes and her assumptions about her adversaries into question.
Smith does a masterful job of addressing a complex web of women’s issues within the context of a fast-moving, believable story.
From never-ending sexism to generational differences both superficial and deeply held, the way the protagonist negotiates these landmines seems real; readers feel her frustration, resolve, and traumas.
I absolutely loved the ups and downs of this book. Opportunities and friendships are lost, secrets and lies are revealed, and a major life lesson is learned: Everything and everyone is much more complicated than they appear.