Small Press Reviews: Truth and Other Lies, a novel by Maggie Smith.

Review by Jenna Zerbel | Ten16 Press

Jenna Zerbel
TEN16 Press, a division of Orange Hat Publishing, housing fiction, non-fiction, YA and poetry books.

“Maggie Smith’s ambitious debut tackles not only mother-daughter dynamics and family secrets, but also the workplace and real world politics affecting modern women. Written with an engaging, conversational tone, the story conflicts are both realistic and substantial.”

—Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck

Perhaps the most critical component of any novel’s success is its main character. In the case of Truth and Other Lies, that’s Megan Barnes – a spirited and ambitious young woman chasing a career in journalism. After losing her boyfriend and job on the same day, she flees to Chicago and moves in with her mother, who is in the midst of running for US Congress. While Megan gets settled into a new job on the PR team of her hero – renowned journalist Jocelyn Jones – she finds herself involved in newsroom hierarchies, social justice, and political campaigns. The more tangled she gets in this media whirlwind, Megan discovers that the lines between fact and fiction are not always black and white.

Truth and Other Lies steeps readers in the cutthroat fields of journalism and politics, following along as Megan unravels harsh truths about how professional ambition often leads to questionable ethics. What’s most impressive about Smith’s debut novel is how seamlessly she manages to weave critical real world issues into the story – ranging from sexual harassment to reproductive rights. Another standout feature of Truth and Other Lies is how it examines the complex dynamics between mother and daughter, as well as mentor and protégé. This book is a contemporary feminist triumph, featuring a strong protagonist who maintains her integrity despite striving for success in an industry built on corruption.

Centered around three career-driven women, this book manages to capture readers’ attention at the outset and keep it through the final page. This is a work of women’s fiction with elements of mystery and romance – one that will ensnare you in scandal and deceit. Truth and Other Lies has the plot twists of a Jodi Picoult novel, the character driven appeal of a Liane Moriarty book, and feminist themes in the vein of Jane Austen’s classics, but with the modern spin of social media. Maggie Smith’s writing style is witty, engaging, and relatable. Any spunky, twenty first century woman will be able to easily empathize with Megan’s perspective.

Among the many great qualities of this book, my favorite is Megan’s inner monologue. The writing is fresh and clever, adding humor to even mundane events – like rummaging through family photos or going to a job interview. Further improving the narration is the intense realism of it all. Maggie Smith describes newsrooms and the city of Chicago so vividly that you can’t help but get invested in the action. Truth and Other Lies is perfect for any fan of fast-paced drama and modern feminism, so gripping that it’s hard to believe this is Smith’s first novel. 

About the Book:

Truth and Other Lies

Megan Barnes’ life is in free fall. After losing both her job as a reporter and her boyfriend in the same day, she retreats to Chicago and moves in with Helen, her over-protective mother. Before long, the two are clashing over everything from pro-choice to #MeToo, not to mention Helen’s run for US Congress which puts Megan’s career on hold until after the election. Desperate to reboot her life, Megan gets her chance when an altercation at a campus rally brings her face to face with Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Jocelyn Jones, who offers her a job on her PR team. Before long, Megan is pulled into the heady world of fame and glamour her charismatic new mentor represents. Until an anonymous tweet brings it all crashing down. To salvage Jocelyn’s reputation, Megan must locate the online troll and expose the lies. But when the trail leads to blackmail, and circles back to her own mother, Megan realizes if she pulls any harder on this thread, what should have been the scoop of her career could unravel into a tabloid nightmare.

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Article originally Published in the February / March 2022 Issue: New & Upcoming.

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