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The First True Lie: A Novel
144 pages; Hogarth
After a few pills and a glass of wine, Lucas's mother often fails to wake up in the morning—or, at least, not until her young son shakes her. One morning in February, however, she just won't respond. Off Lucas goes to school, afraid that she's dead, but even more afraid of being an orphan (due to the disappearance of his father long before). The riveting story that ensues is part survival story and part coming of age, as Lucas grapples with a very adult world that he must negotiate alone. Italian novelist Mander knows just how to express the heartbreak and resourcefulness of a child trying to make sense of things by pretending. "The stories you invent are your personal lullabies," Lucas says to himself. "Even when they are horrible, they don't scare you anymore, because you invented them."
— Leigh Newman