Read Between The Lies

Authored by Malcolm Duffy
Published by Zephyr

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Ryan and Tommy are two boys, thrown together when their families merge. Malcolm Duffy’s third YA novel, Read Between The Lies, tells of the friendship that develops between them. Initially suspicious of each other, they find they have more in common than they realised. It is a novel which looks at the issue of dyslexia in detail and in a way that is actually really useful for readers.

As a reader I was intrigued from the outset and immediately drawn into the split narrative with first-person voices. As you switch perspective on the same event, you witness the characters trying to interpret each other’s actions. I gradually developed sympathy for both the main characters although I was ambivalent at the beginning.

Ryan comes across as quite uncomfortable in his own skin and more like Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole to begin with. But the intensity of his relationship with his mother gives his character depth and credibility as does his later support for Tommy. Tommy is the cool kid who doesn’t even try to be cool and then makes a few bad choices. His bad behaviour is gradually connected with his undiagnosed dyslexia and the sections where the reader experiences his struggles with reading are full of empathy and understanding.

Read Between The Lies has lots of edge of the seat drama and is a true page-turner. It is good to see a YA novel with vulnerability and a complex relationship between boys at its centre. This novel would work really well as a small group read in secondary or as a class read aloud in Y7 or Y8. It also belongs in every secondary school library and shines a positive light on the issue of dyslexia.

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