Thank You to Crown Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of Rob Roberge's memoir, Liar, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Writer and musician Rob Roberge is trying to process his diagnosis of possible degenerative memory loss. Looking towards his future, he reflects on his past, including drug and alcohol addictions and mental health issues. When we look at the memories and personal stories that form our identities, how many of these are accurate? How much can we trust in our core memories and how much does the truth even matter?
LIKE- Roberge has led a wild and reckless life, which makes for a compelling memoir. It's unusual to read writing in a second person POV, but it works very well in Liar. Roberge uses this perspective deftly. It supports the story and doesn't come off as a gimmick. I was pulled right into the action, which was uncomfortable in many of the grittier parts of the memoir. Second person perspective feels dangerous, close, and unsafe, a perfect choice for Liar.
Roberge suffered many concussions, which may have eventual led to his current memory loss. When we are young, we often don't think of the long-term consequences of our actions. In fact, Roberge mentions that he lived life fully intending on dying before thirty. Although, anyone could easily imagine the potentially devastating effects of heavy drug and alcohol abuse, I had never given much thought to the cumulative effects of multiple head traumas. This is timely, with the same issue arising in the film/book, Concussion.
Liar leaps through different memories spanning Roberge's life. It's as if Roberge took all of his important memories and wrote them on index cards, scrambled up the cards and told Liar in this random arrangement. I'm sure that plenty of thought and care went into the arrangement of the memories, to make the effect seem casual. It works. It especially works well to not have the story linger too long in the darker, more depressing years of his life. Floating between time periods serves to lighten the memoir.
I was drawn to Roberge's confession that sometimes he obsesses over other people's tragedies, for example the death of a classmate in elementary school. The internet has fueled this obsession, giving him easy access to information. This confession also played into the theme of memories and how we remember stories and "facts" from our childhood.
DISLIKE- Nothing. Liar is utterly compelling.
RECOMMEND- Yes! Liar isn't for people who like to read happy and uplifting stories. It's a very dark and heavy memoir. Fascinating and well-crafted, but dark. Buyer beware!
Side Note- As a current student, I got a kick out of the mention of UCLA Extension Writer's Program. His experience as an instructor and dealing with a crazy student cracked me up.