Thursday, July 17, 2014


Lie Lay Lain, Bryn Greenwood, Stairway Press, 2014, 350 pp

Publisher's Summary:  
Jennifer has a great job and a go-getter fiancé. She’s on track for success, until she witnesses a fatal hit-and-run. Mistaking Jennifer for someone else, the dying victim extracts an impossible promise. Jennifer’s fiancé wants her to forget the whole incident, but when she closes her eyes, she can still see the bloody face of the woman who asked for her help.

Olivia is in a rut. Burdened with caring for her brain-damaged brother and already feeling like a spinster at 27, she’s desperate to escape. In a moment of weakness, she tells a lie that draws an unsuspecting paramedic into her life. As she struggles to expiate the lie, a horrible act of violence will test her resolve to be honest.
Where Jennifer’s promise and Olivia’s lie intersect, their lives begin to unravel.
My review:
I won Bryn Greenwood's second novel by entering a contest on her blog. I have never in my life won anything in this type of contest. Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, the lottery, even a door prize. Nope. Never. I tried to convey to Ms Greenwood how momentous this was but I'm not sure she got it.

My copy arrived sometime in early May just as I was struck down by the virus that put me in the hospital. The deal on winning the book was I agreed to write an honest review and put it on Goodreads.

Lie Lay Lain features a young church secretary, Olivia. She has plenty of problems in her life but is basically a decent person, a prerequisite for the role of church secretary. My mom was our church secretary for a while and she was one of the most decent people I've known. I guess she passed some of that on to me, because I wrote a note to Bryn explaining my situation and she, very decently, forgave me for my delay in writing the review.

To continue the decent and honest theme, I have to say that I loved Bryn Greenwood's first novel, Last Will but I only liked Lie Lay Lain

One of her strongest talents as a novelist is the way she creates characters who feel true, like ordinary everyday people you might know. Olivia and her antagonist Jennifer are young women who suffer from a tendency to avoid the truth in uncomfortable situations, especially with overbearing men. Both are extremely capable women as well as hard workers. They get themselves in sticky situations, even with each other, but you care about their fates.

Possibly because the story is so rife with issues (racism, military veterans, foster care, mental illness, religion, and truth) I felt the pace was too slow at times. The issues provided more action than the characters and somewhere in the middle of the novel, it began to seem too long.

I liked the way Greenwood handled the issues and for a book with so many scenes in church, it never had an overly Christian message. The characters and dialogue get high marks but she let me down on the plot.

One more thing. Some reviewers made derogatory comments on the sex writing. I thought it was good, realistic, even erotic at times. Basically, I will always read novels by this author, I will probably always like them, and sometimes I will love them.

(Lie Lay Lain is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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