Official blurb: Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a mysterious connection. When an eerie handprint appears on her mirror, she wonders if Dad’s warning her of danger as he did once before. Could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible? Or the grieving building superintendent? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her. Soon the evidence points to Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.
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Full disclosure: I'm very proud to say that Yvonne Ventresca is my friend. We've known each other for years through attending SCBWI conferences. Yvonne has been a big supporter of both me and my writing for a long time, and I hope I've done half as much for her. But even so, I wouldn't lie about her book! There won't even be white lies in my review below! (And I didn't lie in my review of her previous YA novel, PANDEMIC, either.)
In keeping with its cover illustration, the novel opens in a cemetery. Ella is visiting the grave of the father she's never met, and her sadness permeates the reader's introduction to her like a mist and lingers through the pages. For the almost sixteen years of Ella's life, she's had only one utterly reliable person at her side: her mother. But in a few days, their two-person team is about to be broken up. Ella's mom is less than a week away from establishing her own new team; she's getting remarried. And as much as Mom tells Ella that no matter what, her daughter will always be Number One to her, Ella knows that as soon as Mom marries Stanley, things are going to start changing.
In fact, the wedding hasn't even happened yet, and things are starting to change already. Ella and Mom have always talked to each other about Dad, but now when Ella brings up the subject, Mom seems impatient, as if she just wants to move on with her life. Easy for her! She's embarking on a new chapter, but Ella has never felt more alone or more vulnerable. From her perspective, it's not the perfect time for Stanley's son Blake, the new 18-year-old stepbrother Ella's never met before, to arrive from California as a houseguest, just before Mom and Stanley get married and then fly off to Paris for their honeymoon.
It's not that Ella has no plans for the week. She's going to sleep at her friend Grace's house every night, and during the day she'll be continuing with her regular summer activities: working at Mom's bookstore in town and volunteering at the local animal shelter. And Blake seems friendly and con-siderate; he even seems to want to hang around with her sometimes while waiting for his freshman year to start at NYU.
Everything is going okay until the night before the wedding, when Blake gets Ella alone and tells her that he wants the two of them to be completely honest with each other. And to set that course, he reveals a secret that Stanley has told him. Ella's dad didn't die in a car accident, as Ella's mom has always told her he did. He died as a patient in a psychiatric hospital.
Mom would never have lied to Ella about something so important - would she? Why would Ella believe a stranger over her own mother? It's ridiculous. But Blake produces proof. And once Mom and Stanley leave for Paris, inexplicable things start happening to and around Ella. She's always believed in the supernatural to some extent, but these events are terrifying, and they leave her questioning not only Mom's truthfulness, but her own sanity. After all, isn't mental illness often hereditary?
Ella goes through what feel like a lifetime of changes during the roughly two-week period that this book covers, but she never for a moment stops being a believable teen character, and the plot never bogs down. Your heart will be in your mouth as you gallop toward the conclusion, but you'll want to stay in the saddle every step of the way.
YOU’RE INVITED! Yvonne is celebrating the release of Black Flowers, White Lies with a book launch party at Words Bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Sunday, October 16th at 2 p.m. Here's a link to the evite: http://evite.me/BN1dwfsUjq
But because you won't want to wait until then to buy your own copy of Black Flowers, White Lies, here are the links: Indiebound | Amazon | BHYPERLINK "http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-flowers-white-lies-yvonne-ventresca/1123362575"&HYPERLINK "http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-flowers-white-lies-yvonne-ventresca/1123362575"N | AmazonUK | BAM
You'll be reading in distinguished company! Black Flowers, White Lies was recently included at the top of BuzzFeed’s new "must read" books: 23 YA Books That, Without a Doubt, You’ll Want to Read This Fall. I quote: "This suspenseful psychological thriller definitely won't disappoint."
Yvonne's debut YA novel about a deadly bird flu outbreak, Pandemic (Sky Pony Press, 2014), won a regional Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her other credits include a short story in the YA dystopian anthology, Prep for Doom, and two nonfiction books.
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