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Tell Me If You're Lying

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Growing up in an eccentric North Carolina home, with aging-hippie parents whose marriage was forever crumbling around her, author Sarah Sweeney was primed for trouble. For drugs and boys. For learning about sexuality from Madonna videos and prank calling teachers and meeting celebrities—including a young Adrian Grenier. For a father’s supposed alien abduction. For escaping ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Barrelhouse Books
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Sian Griffiths
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Sweeney's memoir of growing up in the South is so fierce and unflinchingly honest that I instantly fell in love. Told with humor and heart, her story gripped me from the first page to the last. ...more
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm obviously biased here, because I'm one of the Barrelhouse editors, but here's what I'll say: from the day we started publishing books, the editors were in strong agreement that when Sarah Sweeney had a book available, we wanted to be the ones to publish it.

This essay collection is funny, weird, smart, and a little scary. It's the kind of voice I love in an essay: accessible, but complex and layered, with great self-awareness. If there's any justice in publishing, everyone will be reading an
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I better love this book because I wrote it. Seriously, though, it's such a thrill to see this thing alive and in print and in other people's hands. I hope you all love this book as much as I loved writing it. ...more
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
How could you not enjoy an essayist with this kind of insight: "As fall crept closer, I watched the gradual introduction of my roots. But their presence only satisfied me, a symbol of the me who was born and the me who was made. I'd forced what I wanted into fruition, just like Madonna. And so I wore those roots proudly, like I had nothing else." ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this collection of mainly memoirish essays about the writer coming of age and then moving north to Boston. There are elements of class here, whether it's the writers own poor Southern upbringing or her relationship to a Mexican cook that complicate things, or her working class solidarity with her Boston neighbor that are appealing and feel right. Lots of good stories collected from Sweeney's like get rattled through. My maybe hesitations are twofold: there's not, on the surface at least, ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This book is so wonderful--it reads as a memoir but each essay also stands on its own. It's a brutally honest coming of age story that is both heartbreaking and hilarious all at once. Sarah Sweeney's voice is so smart and self-aware and the stories she tells are gripping, accessible, and utterly poignant. This was by far my favorite book of 2016. ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was amazing in the most unexpected ways (in a good way). Sweeney is so honest and tells the guts of what it's like to grow up in a troubled home and how those feelings continue to impact you as you become an adult. She uses the setting of NC so well, which I can verify as someone who grew up in the same state. With that being said, "Just to See You" was the most heartbreaking story, but I loved how Sweeney acknowledged the context of immigration in NC in the early aughts--that made the prot ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ranch
This collection of personal essays is well worth your time and money. Ms. Sweeney's tales combine descriptions of wild adventures on the fringe of legality with an undertone of yearning for stability. Due to these competing strains, as well as to its deft blend of humor and sentiment, this book has a wide appeal. Pop culture (particularly music) lovers should definitely read this because the text is peppered with references, and cultural icons occasionally assume a pivotal role. On a personal le ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection. Sweeney has a great range here - there's humor and horror and it is all tinged with a tone that feels occasionally just on the edge of melancholy but is always hopeful as well.

I like her work best when she is tackling the tougher, more emotional stories - "Don't Drink the Antifreeze" and "Just to see you" are my standout favorites.

Her father makes for an interesting character and her complex relationship with him just begs for more essays - I hope that Sweeney m
Chris Gonzalez
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love essays that teeter back and forth between dipping into the more somber moments of life and opening up the opportunity for laughter. TELL ME IF YOU'RE LYING took me from giggling to tearing up on a lonely subway car. The honesty in these pages is presented through beautiful writing and delicious touch of wit. ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this book of essays, which reads like a memoir. I found the stories nostalgic, entertaining, and moving. It lost a star for me because some of the stories felt internally repetitive or uninteresting, and another star probably because I felt there needed to be more surprises, more relevance to current times and current self. Overall good read though.
Avery Stempel
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sarah has such a great voice! Her stories are engaging, creatively written, and cohesive. I really enjoyed this and will be passing it on to friends!
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, read-2019
Sweeney’s collection of personal essays was well written. I could definitely relate to or understand many of the details of her life that she wrote about. Perhaps I missed it here and there, but I often wondered what was the point of some of her stories. Did she learn from these events? Did she change her ways? Sometimes it felt like retelling the facts. Her essays about her father were particularly well-written and showed her trying to make sense of her father’s chronic illness. She wrote a lit ...more
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