The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti is a bizarre little book. It feels like it should be magic realism but somehow manages to stay on this side of slice of life. And how often you find a book that focuses werewolves as much as this one does but never actually features one?
Hawthorn Creely is a girl with a wild imagination and she is also an outsider. She fights with her brother, relies solely on her best friend for company and is mostly isolated. She hates the town she lives in but is also scared of the changes that leaving high school will bring. When a girl Hawthorn both idolizes and hates disappears from her campsite one night and isn’t found, Hawthorne pretends she doesn’t care, but she gradually becomes obsessed with Lizzie Lovett.
Hawthorn eventually begins to sink herself into Lizzie’s old life. She gets a job at the diner that Lizzie used to work at, wanders the woods where Lizzie was last scene and starts hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend Enzo.
Everyone has a theory about how or why Lizzie disappeared. Some people think she got lost in the woods, ran away, was kidnapped, or was even murdered by Enzo. But as months go by and her body isn’t found the town begins to move on with their lives – everyone except Enzo and Hawthorn that is. Hawthorn’s own theory is that Lizzie became a werewolf, and searches the woods for her whenever she can.
Despite having her name in the title though, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is not about Lizzie – it’s about Hawthorn growing up and growing into who she is, learning to find the magic in the world, and getting used to change. It’s about how relationships change as we get older. It’s about loss and tragedy. And although it has a broad scope of themes that could easily be depressing, Hundred Lies is actually quite humorous.
Hawthorn is a character that you’re not going to forget any time soon. She is self-centered and imaginative, resulting in self-created drama of the most unique variety. You can’t help but like her and appreciate the way she sees the world.
She quickly concludes that Lizzie disappeared because she turned into a werewolf, and believes it to a degree that would have most parents worrying. But Sedoti skillfully immerses you in Hawthorn’s mind in a way that has you half-agreeing with her, even though you’re fairly certain there are no werewolves lurking in the woods.
Hawthorn’s gentle delusions are entirely relatable. After all, how many of us try to add an element of mystery to our lives through escapist fantasies? Hawthorn just takes hers a step further.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett takes on a healthy balance of seriousness and bizarre hilarity in what could have easily been a heavy book about missing girls and depression. Instead, the darkness is broken with moments of levity, like when a convoy of Hawthorn’s mother’s hippy friends move into the backyard and Hawthorn ungenerously wishes that “all their weed turns into oregano.” The book is full of moments where she wishes bad things on characters, but they’re never too bad. More like mild inconveniences. And they’re wonderful.
Enzo, Lizzie’s boyfriend, is the second most important character in the novel. As far as Enzo knew, his relationship with Lizzie was good, and then she disappeared without a trace. He begins hanging out with Hawthorn even though she is several years younger than him because she sees the world so uniquely and because she is one of the few people left in town focused on Lizzie’s disappearance. Enzo and Hawthorn develop a relationship that helps and hurts them both; a relationship so mildly screwed up that it feels real.
As for writing style, Sedoti has an easy voice that gently highlights the themes and teases out the feels. Sedoti manages to combine a wide range of themes into the book including being yourself, being an outsider, finding magic in the world, loss, depression, changing relationships and looking to the future but she slips them in so naturally that it’s only when you finish the book that you realise how much it has covered and how gracefully it did it.
Stylistically and thematically you could compare The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett to something like Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer or John Green’s Looking for Alaska. It has strong rereadability value and is a hard book to describe without making it sound crazy. But trust me, it’s worth a read. You’ll find something you relate to on every page and you’ll remember the book long after you’ve put it down.
Werewolves and all.