Read Between the Lies is a story of family drama, secrets, lies and finding the courage to deal with life’s more difficult experiences. It also has at its core a valuable message. Malcolm Duffy’s latest novel for teens shines a light on the impact dyslexia can have on young people, providing a voice for those who may struggle to cope with it and ensuring that those who don’t learn to understand and empathise with them.
Tommy and Ryan are two teenage boys thrown together by circumstance. Tommy’s mum and Ryan’s dad have moved in together and Tommy, just released from Feltham Young Offenders unit and piano playing, A grade student Ryan appear to have little in common. However tough talking Tommy hides a wish to sort his life out and make his future brighter, and Ryan feels constrained by expectations and wants to do something to change people’s perceptions of him. As the two youngsters try to adapt to their changed circumstances hidden secrets and family lies threaten to overwhelm both of them.
Told in alternate chapters in the voices of Tommy and Ryan this has an intensity and immediacy that brings both the boys and their lives vividly to life. The well paced plot is expertly structured and this is an utterly engrossing read and a book I wanted to share with others as soon as I had finished it. Although the impact of dyslexia on young people’s lives was the catalyst for the story and is at the heart of the book Malcolm Duffy draws on other experiences familiar to many. The effects of divorce on children, no matter their ages, the difficulties of attempting to blend families, the pressures on teens from a variety of sources all of these subjects are brought in to the story in a realistic and thoughtful manner.
As a adult reader I quickly cared about both the boys and their welfare. These are two well rounded and believable characters as are the adults in their lives with all the flaws and idiosyncrasies that real people have. There were moments that made me smile and others that made me well up. Good people can make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes can have far reaching consequences. The importance of honesty is highlighted as the reader watches as events unfold in dramatic fashion.
The inclusion of a helpful teacher with knowledge and understanding of how to cope with dyslexia is a thoughtful and positive touch and each chapter heading is written in a format that provides readers with an insight in to how letters appear on the page for those with dyslexia. There are also links to helpful sources of information and support at the end of the book.
Malcolm Duffy tells his story with a kind humour and this compelling read for teen readers is full of empathy and encouragement. A book you feel better for having read and highly recommended.
I should like to thank Zephyr Books and Fritha Lindqvist for my review copy. Read Between the Lies was published on 5th May and is available to purchase at your local independent bookshop or online via Bookshop.org.
You may find this article by Malcolm Duffy for BookTrust interesting and this video of him introducing Read Between the Lies gives you a taste of what to expect from the book.