Mystery Novel Objectively Addresses Mental Health

by Brenna Henderson ‘21

People handle emotions in many ways. For example, abusing substances, socializing less, or stress-eating. While schools educate students on emotional and psychological problems, it’s difficult for students to be able to picture the effects these problems have. In “Last Girl Lied To,” author Laurie Elizabeth Flynn uses the hook of mystery and thriller to educate teenagers on what causes depression, the feeling of wanting to disappear or other mental issues, and how to know when to ask for help. However, the thriller overshadows the message of the novel by using an unrealistic example of “love” as a reason why someone would want to vanish.

Following her release of “Firsts,” a Young Adult Library Services Association Best Fiction for Young Adults, Flynn released “Last Girl Lied To” last month. The book is from the perspective of Fiona, a former cheerleader who is trying to figure out how her best friend, Trixie, vanished. As Fiona investigates, she learns that Trixie could have planned her disappearance, including the disappearance of another high school student. Fiona teams up with her longtime crush, Beau, and Trixie’s former on-again-off-again boyfriend, Jasper, but soon realizes that Trixie wasn’t the only one keeping secrets. There are numerous twists and turns that keep the reader in the dark about what is actually happening even if they think they had it all figured out.

On the other hand, I had a difficult time figuring out what the purpose of the novel was before I noticed that each character represents a different way people cope when they are going through a difficult time. For example, Fiona stress-eats and will not accept what happens to Trixie, Beau drinks excessively, and Jasper distances himself from everyone else. Flynn added many intricate details on mental issues that a reader would not notice unless they study the book. Flynn also incorporated the ways in which social problems can lead to mental health issues while still keeping the novel interesting and suspenseful. After realizing why Trixie left, Fiona says, “Something that’s supposed to help protect your body from bad things can be what blows you up.”

This novel should be highly recommended because it includes a suspenseful plot, red herrings, cliffhangers, and tension among all the characters. The novel also includes important ways to understand or identify mental health issues though the novel has an unrealistic portrayal of high school relationships. In all, it will make you question what could make a person want to vanish entirely.

Grade: B-