Recommended for ages 13+
Sixteen year-old Ella’s dad died before she was born, but she’s always felt a connection to him. Now, her mom’s about to marry Stanley, a nice enough guy, in the process of reconnecting with his estranged son. Just after Blake – Ella’s soon to-be-stepbrother – shows up on the scene, things start getting weird for Ella. After her mom and Stanley marry, leaving Blake and Ella alone in the house together, things go really crazy. She wakes up to find bloody handprints on her wall; mossy handprints on her mirror – just like the one she left on her father’s grave. She and her best friend have a falling out, and Blake seems to be the only one who understands her… right? As Ella discovers little lies that her mother has told her over the years, she fears that she may have inherited her father’s mental illness. Is she having a breakdown, or is there something more going on here?
Black Flowers, White Lies is a good suspense novel that stumbles a bit with its characters, who are largely one-dimensional and hard to get on board with. Our heroine is s almost too neurotic to be sympathetic, and the antagonist’s transparency comes through shortly after being introduced. Ella’s best friend is more of a classic frenemy, and her mother is seemingly too detached and self-absorbed through most of the book to notice what’s happening to her daughter. That said, the novel keeps you reading, wanting confirmation of everything you know is happening – and Ventresca ups the action in ways you may not see coming. I like the way the author paces her novels; I couldn’t put Pandemic down, and Black Flowers, White Lies keeps a similar pace, constantly building to its conclusion. books I liked the book and would booktalk this to mystery and suspense fans. A list of resources at the end guides interested readers to more information about topics touched on.