Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment, which means the time for speculation is now.
So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her…or did he?
Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heartrending, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.
There’s a point in everyone’s transition between teenager and adulthood where we begin to question who we really are and what we want in life. For some, the conflict is momentary – a blip on the path towards our goals. For others, it is a long-term and often agonizing process as we come to terms with the person we are versus the person we thought we wanted to be. It’s never a comfortable realization, and we often have to face some not-so-happy truths about ourselves and about the people we thought we admired and revered.
Hawthorn isn’t an easy character to get to know or to like at first, but the discomfort we feel around her is because we can recognize so much of ourselves in her thoughts. She is different from her peers – sarcastic, imaginative, disdainful, and more – but she is also clearly intelligent, often lonely and longs to be accepted but doesn’t know how to go about doing that. Lizzie Lovett becomes the focus of Hawthorn’s attention, mainly because Lizzie seems to live the life that Hawthorn always wanted. The trouble with appearances, as Hawthorn slowly comes to realize, is that they are often deceptive.
“She had everything, Sundog. How could she walk away?”
“You only know the part of the story people want you to see.”
Hawthorn perseverates on Lizzie and her disappearance and this causes her to make some significantly impulsive and unwise life choices, including starting a relationship with Lizzie’s older boyfriend, Enzo. I felt for Hawthorn, especially because she just wanted to be liked for herself but she didn’t know who that really was for most of the book. Hawthorn begins to learn how to make connections to the people around her, and as life changes, she is affected by these people in a more healthy manner. I especially liked how she began to make a connection to Sundog and the other hippies, as they played a similar role for her mother that she didn’t value at the start of the book. What redeemed her in my eyes was how she began to grow as an individual over time, and through her encounters with the regulars at the cafe, her relationship with her brother and Connor and her conversations with the hippies in her back yard. Hawthorn is an imperfect character, but we are all imperfect in some way and I think that’s what makes her so compelling for me.
Chelsea Sedoti also does a stellar job with her world building in this novel, and each of the places she described was incredibly vivid in my mind. Griffin Mills is a mix of a dozen places that I know, and when Hawthorn reads aloud her historical description of the place, I could see it right in front of me. Every time Hawthorn walked into the wood I could smell the loom-y damp earth and heard the brush of the trees, and I was drawn in to the moment. Place and her sense of how she fits in (or not) with her surroundings is part of what keeps Hawthorn distinct from her classmates, and as someone who grew up in a small town, I felt like I knew this place and these people.
Ultimately, the Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett made me reflect back on some of the people I knew and hate/admired in high school, and I wonder if their lives were truly as perfect as we thought them to be at the time. Everyone has something in their life that makes them unhappy – conflict with their parents, trouble at school, emotional conflict – but we have become so adept at hiding those negative things behind a facade that it’s often too late before we realize the true effect they have on our lives. I’ll be thinking about that message long after I put this book on my shelf.
My thanks to author Chelsea Sedoti and to Raincoast Books for taking the time to pass on and to respond to my questions!
Hawthorn Creely is an incredible character who changes a lot over the course of the book. Is there a moment in your life that you think likely changed your beliefs about something you thought you knew?
In books, there are often AHA! moments. Those moments where everything comes together and a character understands something major about themselves or the world around them.
In my own experience, it hasn’t been so straightforward.
AHA! moments are rare. I’ve grown, and changed, and come to major realizations so slowly that it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened.
When I was Hawthorn’s age, much like her, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about people. That if you dressed a certain way you were this type of person. If you listened to a certain kind of much you were that type of person. That the smart kids had their whole lives figured out. That the popular kids were never lonely. That the kids who were smiling all the time must be happy.
There wasn’t an AHA! moment that shook these beliefs. But over the years, I found out that so much of what I assumed about people was wrong. No one in the world can be defined by one thing. There’s nothing surface level that can tell you everything about a person. People are complex. A person can be so many different things at once.
It took me a long time to figure that out. It makes me wonder how many friendships I missed out on because I made judgements about people without actually knowing anything about them.
So, I don’t know when exactly this change happened. Maybe it was meeting certain people who made me question my expectations. Maybe it was simply growing up and learning more about the world. As I said, it happened over such a long time period that any distinct moment is impossible to pick out.
Of course, in books we seldom have the luxury of watching a character change over the course of their entire lives. We need the AHA! moments. Without those moments, the story couldn’t work. Not to mention, seeing a character having a major revelation is always exciting to read.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is available now from Sourcebooks Fire, and distributed by Raincoast Books. It may be purchased from your favourite independent, online or bricks & mortar bookseller, or borrowed from your local library. ISBN: 9781492636083, 400 pages