A blurb at the back of Dirty Liar says that the main character Benji is “trying not to self-destruct”, and truer words have never been written. Benji is going through hell just trying to survive. After a traumatic experience with his mother and her boyfriend, he has moved states to live with his father, stepmother, and new half-sister. But things are never that easy, and Benji soon realises that you cannot escape the past no matter how much you want to.
Despite the somewhat negative nature of the book, I really enjoyed reading it. James truly captured the dichotomy of a troubled soul. As much as others may say that Benji is just out for attention, the opposite is the truth — and all he wants is to be left alone. But when being alone means being alone with your thoughts, that proves to be the wrong course of action.
I love the way that author Brian James writes. There’s a certain poetry to the way the sentences flow together and apart. As a first-person narrative from Benji’s perspective, the author also doesn’t use the typical grammar or use punctuation for speech. This disconnected way of writing works really well to further the fact that most of Benji’s life exists inside his head, and the outside world is just a distraction.
I did a little bit of research and found that Benji is an actual a character in another one of James’s books, called Perfect World — so I’m excited to read that soon, too.
I recommend Dirty Liar for teenagers because it will help them to realise they’re not alone in their thinking, but also for parents because it might help them to understand their kids a bit better.
If anyone else has read this book please leave a comment whether or not you agree or disagree with my views.