Friday 7 May 2021

The True Colour of a Little White Lie

The True Colour of a Little White Lie by Gabriel Bergmoser (HarperCollins) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9781460759097

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

What do you do when you go from zero to hero in the space of a fortnight, but your new status is based on some (minor, really) mistruths? After his bestie has moved away and his parents force him to accompany them on a new business venture in their nearby ski resort, Nelson hits social rock bottom. That’s before he meets two different girls, holidaying on the mountain on alternating weekends. It’s not really his fault that he doesn’t get around to mentioning either girl to the other, is it? 

Cue several rounds of angst, awkwardness and avoidance that could easily turn into a romcom cliche, but in Gabriel Bergmoser’s deft hands is subtle and realistic. The narrative packs emotional punch without relying on outlandish dramatics. Nelson is a flawed hero with whom we can empathise, as the story weaves enough complexity into each teenage and adult character to avoid creating any bad guys. Readers are enveloped in a cast of real people with their uncomfortable messes and not-quite-triumphs.

The story touches on film (including repeated Hannibal Lecter references, which might be worth noting from a content perspective for some readers), skiing, high school social dynamics, the stresses of family business and isolation, but relationships - and being true to yourself in the context of those relationships - are the central theme.

A sensitive, accessible read with a 14-year-old male protagonist and featuring strong, appealing girls along with an age -and gender- diverse supporting cast, this is a young adult offering with broad appeal.

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