Release Date: October 4, 2016
Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.
When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.
Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.
Ella’s cat was always named Oscar throughout various revisions. While writing Black Flowers, White Lies, Yvonne learned that an author friend, Jennifer Murgia, had a real-life Oscar. Jennifer shared some photos of her Oscar, which Yvonne used to better describe the fictional cat. A cute photo of Oscar in a laundry basket prompted Yvonne to include a mention of that in the story (page 114).
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour
Black Flowers, White Lies is a subtle psychological thriller that builds up to a startling twist. At first, the story is relatively slow. Everything is there, cute boy, possible paranormal encounter, and a quirky female lead. It feels like an everyday, fairly tame, contemporary coming of age. It takes a bit, but when it picks up, it’s fast and you’ll start to question everything.
Ella is well developed and interesting. Her love for her deceased father is in everything she does. She holds him up like a mythical hero and it influences all aspects of her life-from her clever cat shirts to her volunteer work to her beliefs in the paranormal. Her voice is steady and consistent. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and gets easily overwhelmed. She’s flawed, a little weird, but relatable. What bothered me was her naive infatuation with males. From Blake to Gavin, the instalust/love is strong. She barely thinks before swoony, make out scenes. It takes her forever to question a certain someone’s motives, even though it’s SUPER COINCIDENTAL and creepy.
Grace is a sneaky little character. I loathed her. She’s a self-absorbed, judgmental best friend and I seriously thought Ella deserved better, someone a little more understanding and not so snotty. Thankfully, her parts were brief. How Ella is so oblivious is beyond me.
The story is short. Almost too short. Some sections could have been a more developed, layering the odd events.
There’s a ton of skillful misdirection. Everyone is a suspect and despite any misgivings, the uncertainty almost pushes you to believe in the paranormal. When the truth starts to come out, the scramble to see through all the lies is fierce.
Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.
Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).
Prize pack includes a three panel rustic chalkboard with a $25 Amex gift card, a $25 Sephora gift card, and a signed copy of Black Flowers, White Lies!
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