From an author who lives in the desert and enjoys hunting down abandoned buildings and haunted houses comes a young adult novel that resists growing up as much as its author did. Chelsea Sedoti’s The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is a refreshingly written, coming-of-age story of a small-town girl who takes on a big-time investigation in an effort to find her place and feel belonging.
Hawthorn is a seventeen-year-old girl who struggles with her state of nobodiness. She is conscious of her unpopularity at school, and wonders if she’ll ever experience a “movie kiss”. Notably contrast to Hawthorn is Lizzie Lovett, a girl to whom nothing bad ever happened, who had friends, and whose biggest problem has been “whether to match her shoes to her eyeshadow.”
Although Hawthorn never really knew Lizzie, other than understanding that she would never attain Lizzie’s status of popularity, Hawthorn finds herself trying to uncover what happened to Lizzie on her own. Hawthorn inadvertently accepts Lizzie’s old job at a neighborhood diner and befriends Lizzie’s boyfriend, with whom she shares her own wild theories of what may have happened to Lizzie.
Sedoti buries Hawthorn’s investigation into Lizzie’s disappearance under Hawthorn’s own journey to find belonging. Unless Hawthorn is actively talking about looking for Lizzie, the reader finds himself more engrossed in Hawthorn’s personal struggles. Because of this toggle, with the story of Hawthorn’s personal life taking some prevalence over Hawthorn’s search for Lizzie, the resolution of Lizzie’s disappearance toward the end of the novel comes as a surprise, catching the reader off guard.
Perhaps most refreshing about Chelsea Sedoti’s writing is her ability to put a phrase or conversation on paper exactly how it is thought or said. In Hawthorn’s narration, Sedoti writes “kinda” where the laws of grammar say to use “kind of”, and during the conversations of a chatty teenager, Sedoti stands confident behind run-on sentences. This allows the reader to fully feel as if they are standing in the room with Hawthorn, participating in the investigation and going through Hawthorn’s struggles with her.
As if showing the reader a glimpse back into his or her own teenage years through times of uncertainty, insecurity, and nonacceptance, Chelsea Sedoti weaves a story of a girl looking for meaning into a grim reminder that life is a reality, and calls her finished product The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett.