When is it okay to tell a lie? When a friend asks if she looks fat in that miniskirt and you shake your head no? When a stranger asks how old you are online and you write 18 when you’re only in eighth grade? How about telling your parents you’re at a sleepover at a friend’s house, when you’re really out partying with senior boys from another school? Anna, Emma and Mariah say they’re having a sleepover in order to hang out with unsupervised older boys they know their parents wouldn’t approve of. Emma even sees it as doing her folks a favor, because “parents don’t really want to know the truth. They just want to know that everything is perfect…so they can concentrate on their own problems.” But when the three friends are unexpectedly busted, they quickly come up with a story of being attacked by a vagrant to cover up their first lie. At first, their parents believe them and everything is cool—until someone is actually arrested for assaulting them. Now, each girl has to decide for herself if she can continue to lie when an innocent man’s life is at stake. What makes matters worse is that something really bad actually DID happen to Emma that night. But she can’t even begin to deal with her feelings about it until they all own up to the truth. Dana Reinhardt’s introspective and richly characterized novel, told in a trio of realistic teen voices, reminds you that even actions that seem harmless at the time can end up having devastating consequences. For more reads about how hard it is to come clean, try What Mr. Mattero Did by Pricilla Cummings or Friction by E.R. Frank.
Harmless by Dana Reinhardt