Author: Fiona Palmer
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Tiny White Lies is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, it definitely hit me in the heart and offers a full range of emotional reactions.
The story is told dual perspective in alternating chapters by Nikki and Ashley, who have been close friends since their daughters started high school together. The pair have the kind of friendship where they share everything, or they thought they did. It’s been a rough year with a lot going on and both families are in desperate need of a break. The chapters are set both in the present and the past, with the past chapters shedding a little light on what the pair are working through in the present.
Nikki’s husband has a cousin with a property by the beach, a farm he had spent many a childhood summer on and made wonderful lasting memories. It is the perfect solution for a getaway to reset, relax and escape the demands (and pull) of technology.
The times our children are growing up in are very different to those of our childhoods. I am often glad of growing up in a time before social media, especially with cyber-bullying and the insidious way it can creep into all corners of your life. Yes there have always been bullies but it used to be harder for them to get to you once you were at home, now they can follow you anywhere online.
Three weeks on a rural retreat farm by the beach sounds heavenly, even if it is winter and swimming is off the activities list. I spent the book pining after the setting and wishing that I could head there too; beginning my days with a long walk along the beach and spending my evenings in front of the campfire surrounded by good friends.
Emily is Ashley’s only child and having a rough time with bullying, this holiday is going to give her a break from it all and she’s happy to be technology free. Part of the reason Nikki wanted to take the holiday was to give her addicted kids an enforced break from the devices they have trouble putting down and she’s not sure how they are going to take it when they discover that there’s no internet and no mobile signal at Hakea Hollow in Bremer Bay..
The discovery of no signal sets off the expected whining and it’s anyone’s guess how long it will be before Josh and Chloe climb out of their sulks to enjoy their surroundings.
Tiny White Lies is an honest and insightful exploration of relationships and friendships and the struggles of teens in this technological age.
Hakea Hollow is six and a half hours from their homes but this holiday has taken them worlds away from their everyday lives and it’s taken away the distractions that allow the characters to hide from what’s really going on in their lives; with a little time it creates a new perspective and offers different ways to deal with the things that they have been struggling through on their own.
It is sometimes easy to hide between little white lies when you’re juggling everyday life, there’s always something to keep you focused and occupied between work, parenting and keeping a household running but when you move out of that zone into a relaxed holiday, screen free zone it’s harder to keep up the facade.
I don’t envy any of these characters their issues but I certainly envy their holiday. Hakea Hollow is an amazing property with a lot to offer, and there was certainly enough to occupy them; including being required to help out with the daily chores. There was no shortage of ‘I’m Bored’s but I think that’s par for the course as teens acclimatize to time without screens.
The setting is peaceful and serene, and that serenity is something that these characters are in need of at this time but as is often the way, things have to get a lot worse before they can get better. The things that they are hiding and trying to deal with on their own have to explode and come to the forefront before they can actually be dealt with, and for the characters to realise that they don’t have to deal with these things on their own; keeping things to yourself to protect those around you often only causes more pain.
I loved everything about this book but one thing that I especially loved was the path that Emily and Chloe found back to one another. They were once the best of friends but high school has a way of taking people in different directions and the two had drifted apart, their holiday put them both back on even ground and saw them find their way back together.
Palmer has addressed so many of the fears parents have for their children in this technologically focused age and I’m sure many will relate to the issues with enforcing screen time limits and getting young people back outdoors, working with their hands and exploring the world around them. She also explores friendship, relationships, mental illness and body image along with the ways in which we deal with these things. Some people are very private and even in the closest of friendships there are things that you just don’t share, but how then do you manage to deal with them on your own and move through and heal from them.
Tiny White Lies offered a little of everything; I laughed, I cried, I was terrified and I was hopeful. Friends found their way back together, new relationships bloomed and old ones were rekindled. Mostly though I loved the insightful way Palmer explored healing through sharing rather than trying to work through it all on your own.
Fiona Palmer always writes stories that are engaging and entertaining, and Tiny White Lies is another book that I would highly recommend to all readers.
Tiny White Lies is book #14 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2020.
Thank you to the Publisher for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.