One Great Lie by Deb Caletti

Hi All! It’s Becky. I loved Deb Caletti’s A Heart In a Body in a World, and I was excited to read her newest book. Unfortunately, for me,  One Great Lie did not live up to A Heart In a Body in a World.

Title: One Great Lie
Author: Deb Caletti
Note: I listened to the audiobook.

Summary: Charlotte dreams of being an author and is thrilled when she gets accepted into a prestigious writing workshop. Charlotte can’t wait to spend the summer in Venice while being mentored by the award-winning author Luca Bruni. Once in Venice, Charlotte uncovers secrets about Bruni that will change her future.

Review: I wanted to love this book, and I never did. Caletti’s newest novel addresses issues important facing young women, in a manner that encourages discussions about toxic masculinity, women’s rights, and how history has been rewritten. As a tool for discussion,  One Great Lie is an amazing novel. However, I never found myself pulled it the narrative or truly entertained while reading it.  

One Great Lie follows Charlotte as she travels to Venice for a prestigious writing program; once in a foreign country, Charlotte tries to solve the mysteries around her ancestor while finding romance and being harassed by her mentor/teacher. Caletti’s characters are well-developed, with Charlotte becoming better formed as the novel progressed. I believed her story and found parts of her struggles to be relatable. Charlotte learns about harassment and toxic masculinity like many young women.  

Also, Caletti embraced the books setting to enrich the narrative. Venice is a character in One Great Lie, and the novel can not exist outside the setting. Charlotte experiences the city’s beauty, and by reading her story I felt like I was experiencing the city with her.  

Unfortunately, One Great Lie is weakened by how the author told the story. Caletti chose to tell the story from a detached third-person point-of-view, making the book feel more like a historical document than a book. The narrative voice made it difficult to connect with the character because we’re never “shown” their true feelings. Additionally, the narrative arc relied heavily upon foreshadow that felt awkward and pulled me out of the story. I don’t need to be told the character doesn’t know what’s going to happen later in the book, that’s implied. I wanted to know Charlotte and understand what she was feeling, but I never got there. 

Yet, even with those issues, One Great Lie does add to the world of YA lit, and many readers will relate to Charlotte’s story.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5

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