Teen Book Review: The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu

Hey everyone, it’s Sarah!

After reading Moxie and waiting for the movie to come out (I still can’t wait), I was excited to read Mathieu’s next novel. I received it through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Elena must conform to her mother’s unrealistic rules, or she must death with her mother’s wrath. Unlike her older brother, Elena is expected to cook, clean, and be a proper lady. She is not allowed to go out with friends or do anything that might even look like impropriety. Elena looks forward to the summers, when the rich Callahan family returns and she can get a break from her mother by babysitting the Callahan children. This summer is different because Elena has met a guy. While he may not be the best and not who you would consider to be her type, Elena begins to use the Callahans as an excuse more and more. Elena’s older brother Joaquin worries about his sister, but he would never call her out because he doesn’t want to alert their abusive and alcoholic mother. Joaquin doesn’t want to be a part of the drama or abuse, instead he wants to start his adult life far away. Joaquin wants to find their long lost father and build connections with other parts of his family. This summer is one of tension and change, will the family be able to make it through the summer unscathed.


There was alot of story in this novel, though not alot of action. Elena, Joaquin, and their mother sift through their personal histories as a way to understand what their futures are going to be. While the narrative provides the mother’s perspective, I never found myself connecting with her or rooting for her. She started pretty awful and stayed that way. The mother did have a challenging life, since she was sent from her home in Cuba to live with strangers in America. Instead of rising in the face of adversity, she twisted and became something nasty. Elena seemed to (almost) follow the same path and process. By the end of the book, I think the only person I really cared for or wanted to see in the future was Joaquin. I think this was a dense emotional story that some readers will respond to, but it was a challenge for me to read.



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