E. Lockhart had a New York Times bestseller with her 2014 YA novel, We Were Liars. Her latest book is Genuine Fraud.
Lockhart starts her book with the ending. Jule is alone in a Baja resort, enjoying life - doing whatever she want when she wants. Then a woman appears, asking Jule about herself. Jule gives her name is Imogen. But the appearance of this woman triggers fight or flight response in Jule. Why? Is she in hiding or on the run? Who is she - Jule or Imogen?
And it is that last question that drives the book.
"If only she could go back in time, Jule felt, she would be a better person. Or a different person. She would be more herself. Or maybe less herself. She didn't know which, because she didn't any longer know what shape her own self was, or whether there was really no Jule at all, bu only a series of selves she presented for different contexts. Were all people like that, with no true self? Or was it only Jule?"
Lockhart's timeline as I mentioned, starts with the ending and weaves it way back to the beginning. I was curious to find out about Imogen. Who is she and why is Jule pretending to be her? Who is Jule really? Initially I was quite intrigued, but as the book progressed, I found myself growing somewhat bored with Jule's repetitive deceptions. What is truth and what is fiction are inextricably intertwined. I also found myself predicting what the beginning (end) would reveal. Turns out I was right - and slightly disappointed. I think I was perhaps expecting a twist such as the one in We Were Liars.
I found the timeline used a bit confusing. But it did mirror Jule's mind. Lockhart's descriptions of that mind's inner workings were quite chilling....
"Her mind was cinematic. She looked superb in the light from the streetlamps. After the fight, her cheeks were flushed. Bruises were forming underneath her clothes, but her hair looked excellent. And oh, her clothes were so very flattering. Yes, it was true that she was criminally violent. Brutal, even. But that was her job and she was uniquely qualified for it, so it was sexy."
Genuine Fraud echoes some actual cases and some other mystery works of fiction - The Talented Mr. Ripley comes to mind. But at the end Genuine Fraud was just an okay read for me. Read an excerpt of Genuine Fraud.