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The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily…

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

by Emily Barr

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Just a warning for sensitive readers - this novel does contain on scene of pretty horrific animal abuse. This is really early on in the book and never reoccurs, yet I did feel that it was graphic and unnecessary. You have been warned.

I was really excited to read this novel as I loved Flora Banks, but unfortunately I was left feeling really disappointed. This novel shared a lot of similarities with Flora Banks - the controlling parents, the life-long deception, the running away to to a foreign country - but it just did not work this time. The repetitive nature of the dialogue worked in Flora Banks because of her memory issues. Here, it just felt dry.

Although the premise of the novel is intriguing, I personally felt that it lost its momentum once Ella reached Brazil. The novel just felt unfocused, never really sticking with any thread for long. Although Ella meets a lot of different people at different stages of her journey, these are always left behind as she moves on. The novel has its share of twists and turns but these seemed to lack tension as they never really built to anything in the tale. Everything comes too easily to Bella. She runs away in a city that she does not know, unable to speak the local language, yet she some how comes up on top by landing herself a teaching job with no passport or references. Whaaaat?

Even the climax felt a bit lacklustre as Ella did not even confront her parents about her lies directly. It just ended with a letter that she wrote to them, a year after the events of the story. For me, this really lacked closure. There was no sense of Ella facing her problems. They just all seemed to flit away during that unseen year. I'm not even sure what the tagline on the front of the book really means, as there is no sense of Ella "dying", despite what the chapter headlines lead you to believe.

Yet, the biggest issue I had with the story was Ella herself. While it is easy to feel a degree of sympathy towards her, she does not make it easy to do so. From the animal abuse of the first chapter to her later tantrums, she is nothing short of a brat. It annoyed me no end that she faced no ramifications for the things that she does as "Bella". It's clear that she has some kind of serious mental illness, yet no one ever really addresses this.

She also is terrible to her parents. Without spoiling anything, I do agree that she has a right to be angry at them for hiding things from her. However, she never truly forgives them. She runs away to the suburbs of Rio and NEVER directly interacts with them again. This is really, really frustrating. You would never believe that she was almost eighteen. She talks and behaves more like a thirteen year old.

The novel also contains a really frustrating insta-love between Ella and Christian. Christian is a darling and I really don't understand what he sees in Ella. They go out on one date and he is so smitten with her that he's prepared to lie for her to the police, send her money and offer her the chance to live with him in Miami. Yeah, this isn't a very realistic novel.

All in all, you might be able to tell that I was disappointed. This novel did not captivate me like Flora Banks did. While I was intrigued for a while, I lost interest when it became clear what was truly going on. Most of my issues were centred around Ella herself, who I found to be a frustrating and immature protagonist. This is certainly not a novel that I'd recommend. ( )
1 vote ArkhamReviews | Sep 19, 2018 |
Ella Black seems like a normal 17 year-old girl but she has two secrets. One she knows about: her violent, sadistic alter ego Bella. The other secret is one kept by her parents and the fear that Ella might discover this secret, cause them to pull her out of school without warning and take her to Brazil. Ella is cross and when she can't get a rational reason from her parents she resorts to some snooping. It is then that she discovers that she is adopted. Spinning out of control, she runs away and eventually ends up in the favelas in RIo. However, her search for information about her birth mother leads her to an even greater secret.
The subtitle, '40 days until she dies', along with the countdown chapter headings, give the impression that this is a thriller that will end badly for Ella. However, Ella's story is not really a thriller and the subtitle is quite misleading. It is the story of a messed up teenage girl trying to cope with the upending of her life. Ella is often annoying and self-centred (just like real teenagers) and the way she falls in love at first sight is a bit unbelievable. However, the story of her time in Rio is interesting and the ramifications of the final secret are fascinating. This book is more suited to older teens but even older teens may find the description of an incident of animal cruelty in the first chapter disturbing. ( )
  RefPenny | Jan 24, 2018 |

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr was a book I had been anticipating for a while
I was so very excited to get started with this one as the blurb sounded fantastic.
Unfortunately, this was not quite what I was expecting.
I'd go as far as to say this fell massively short of the mark in terms of what I expected this to deliver, I am so disappointed.
It was like a tale of two halves, the first being super exciting.
Do you remember that old 1956 film The Bad Seed, super movie.
Well, this is where I was at rubbing my hands together in glee especially when we got the big reveal I could just picture where this was taking us.

Then nothing, this book just sank like a damp squad and It was all highly unlikely scenarios and teenage drama and angst.

I kept reading expecting something to happen only to end up deflated.
And to top it all off Ella herself was just not that likeable of a character.
Now if we had got evil Ella instead of just bratty angsty Ella I could have totally digged her.
But no The Truth and Lies of Ella Black is just Ella being a major cow to her parents, I mean total obnoxious I hate everyone teen, so over this.
This is well written and I did finish so this has those plus points in its favour but overall for me this was just an OK read.
So, in conclusion, this just wasn't quite what I was expecting at all, the book really didn't match its killer synopsis, a real shame indeed.
Thank You to NetGalley for proving me with an ARC of The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr of which I have reviewed voluntary.
All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
www.beckiebookworm.com ( )
  carpathian1974 | Jan 11, 2018 |
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Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things. And realises her life has been a lie. Her mother and father aren't hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they'll never think to look - the favelas. But there she learns a terrible secret - the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .… (more)

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