Book Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Posted 09/05/2018 by Isabelle MBTL in review / 0 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 18 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer DonaldsonLies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
Published by Razorbill on May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Digital, print, audiobook
Source: Penguin Random House
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"A compulsive page-turner with a shocking twist--get ready to stay up all night!" --Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

"This conversation-starting page-turner is...Fatal Attraction meets Big Little Lies." --Kirkus Reviews

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.


Contemporary romance; romantic suspense; thriller.

Young Adult/New Adult.  Even though both main characters are teens, there are really adult situations going on, so I have put this age between YA/NA.

Dual-POV. Two stories happening in parallel narratives. One is happening in Austin, the other in Portland.

Stand-alone. (Hopefully it will have a sequel.)


  • Addictiveness: Highly addictive. It grabbed me before the end of the first paragraph and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. A romantic thriller!!!
  • Character: hero 4/5, heroine 4/5, secondary characters 5/5, growth 5/5, real 5/5 I love them both. They were both easy to love, connect and understand. Gabe is a high school student in Austin. He is a Chicano dating a white girl that lets her steamroll him all the time. Gabe was a bit of doormat until he finds his backbone. After that, the craziest things happened in his life. There was a lot for a teen to deal with. He did pretty well. He was a good guy, with his heart in the right place. Of course he had his too-stupid-to-live moment, but we have to take in consideration that he was a 17-year-old boy. Elyse is a high school student in Portland. She is part of the theater crowd and she has just gotten the role of her life as Shakespeare’s Juliet. She has had a tough life taking care of herself and her mom. She used to be an invisible until this important role at the school play. Elyse’s choices were not the best, in fact, I believe they were worst than Gabe. At the same time, she is only 16 years old and was a victim, even without knowing. I liked her, even though I’ve cringed a lot with her choices. Both characters are multidimensional with a lot of depth. There are several secondary characters that I also loved. Gabe and Elyse’s best-friends were great. They were loyal and true.
  • Freshness:  ONE-OF-A-KIND! Really, this book is unique, different.
  • Plot: believable 4/5, conflict 5/5, dialogue 5/5, ending 4/5, enjoyment 5/5, opening 4/5, pace 5/5, setting 5/5, subplots 5/5, twists 5/5  Great opening and good ending.  Amazing  conflict and dialogues very well written . Fast-paced with enough suspense to keep the reader guessing until the end. Even though I knew from the beginning how their lives would intersect, it was amazing. The plot is different and thrilling. I kept trying to guess and cringe every time they acted as teenagers and did something wrong. 🙂 I’ve yelled and mumbled while reading this book and my family, specially my teens kept shaking their heads as if I was crazy. 🙂 (Only readers can understand how cathartic reading a book can be)
  • Romance: believable 5/5, chemistry 3/5, description 4/5, development 4/5, steam 1.5/5 Yes! This was unusual. Really, they had so much going against them, each character inside a crazy relationship, that the end was perfect, even though shocking!!!
  • Writing Style: Amazing writing. Well constructed characters, unique plot and shocking ending.


  • Cover: art 3.5/5, title 5/5, subtitle 4/5, color-font 5/5, buy 3.5/5 I’m obsessed with book covers. I love to find snippets of the stories within the art. This is not a great art for me, but at the same time it is catching. I love the title and the color/font used here. I was attracted to it, so I think that maybe I would have bought this without reading the blurb.




I’m shocked. I did some research on the author and found out this is her début novel. WOW! This was so good already, I can see how amazing her books will become in the future.

I’m counting this is going to become  a huge success and that Ms. Donaldson will write a sequel to this book. I really need one!!!

29/35 STARS –  4 STARS (between 28 stars and 31 stars)

Addictiveness: 4.5 Character: 4.5  Cover: 3.5  Freshness: 5  Plot: 4  Romance: 3.5 Writing Style: 4

  • Action 3/5
  • Angst 4/5
  • Darkness 0/5
  • Humor 0/5
  • Romance 5/5
  • Suspense/Mystery 4/5
  • Would I recommend? Yes. An amazing début!!!
  • Would I re-read this book? YES!
  • Would I re-read this series? Hopefully it will become one, or at least a duet.
  • Would I read more from the author? I’m looking forward to it.

You MAY read this because you like thrillers; you SHOULD read this because you enjoy angst romance; you MUST read this because you are looking for a new author to crush on!!!





About Jennifer Donaldson


Author of the novel Lies You Never Told Me, available on May 28, 2018 from Penguin Razorbill.

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