It chills me to the core that there are so many accusations of sexual abuse made today, and it is distressing that in so many cases no charges can be brought due to insufficient evidence. The word of the accused is forever pitted against the word of the accuser.
In Little Liar by Lisa Ballantyne, Angela Furness, a troubled and angry school girl, alleges that her drama teacher, Nick Dean has sexually assaulted her thus beginning a compelling examination of the impact of such an allegation on the victim, the alleged abuser and their respective families.
As expected with a novel which deals with legal process, the themes of innocence and guilt are played with and twisted about themselves throughout, transcending the legal and moving into the idea of moral guilt/innocence and often blurring the lines between what it actually means to be guilty or innocent.
Little Liar provides a fascinating insight into the lives of its characters with Angela, Nick, Angela’s parents (Stephen and Donna) and Nick’s wife (Marina) each earning focused third person narration on a chapter by chapter basis. This technique cleverly allows the reader to understand the full impact of the events as felt by different characters. You feel that you know the characters well, are privy to their innermost thoughts and emotions serving to create and enhance an engaging story.
The repercussions of the allegation are far reaching and life changing and serve to challenge the very basis of the UK justice system: ‘innocent until proven guilty’. It is very thought provoking, and reminiscent of a Jodi Picoult novel which I always find to sensitively shed alternate viewpoints on controversial and taboo subjects.
I enjoyed the novel immensely as a whole, but for me there is a bridge missing between the main part of the novel and its conclusion. The ending, which delivered a wonderful and chilling twist, felt slightly hurried and in stark contrast to the tantalising build of tension throughout. As I was nearing the end I had a sudden feeling of disconnect, as if I had accidentally skipped over a chapter. Having said that, the focus of the novel is the impact of the accusation, which Little Liar deals with thoroughly and sensitively.
Despite this, I enjoyed the novel enormously. It is very readable and I was hooked right from the first chapter, finding myself eagerly awaiting my next reading session! I will definitely read more by Lisa Ballantyne.
Richard and Judy and international bestselling author of The Guilty One returns with a nail-biting ride of ‘he said/she said’ between a teacher and his pupil. For fans of Anatomy of a Scandal and TVs Liar and Dr Foster.
While Nick Dean is enjoying an evening at home with his family, he is blissfully unaware that one of his pupils has just placed an allegation of abuse against him – and that Nick’s imminent arrest will see the start of everything he knows and loves disintegrating around him.
Because, mud sticks, right? No matter if you’re innocent or guilty.
When Angela Furness decides that enough is enough – she hates her parents, hates her friends and, most of all, despises what has recently happened at school – she does the only thing she knows will get her attention: calls the police. But Angela is unaware that the shocking story she is about to tell will see her life begin to topple.
Because, once you’ve said what you’ve said, there’s no way back, right? No matter if you’re innocent or guilty.
In a gripping tale of two families torn apart by one catastrophic betrayal, Little Liar illustrates the fine line between guilt and innocence, and shows that everyone has their secrets, even those we ought to trust the most…
*I received an e copy of Little Liar to review via Netgalley from the publishers Little, Brown Book Group