Little White Lies (Debutantes Book 1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Oh, gosh darn it, if I’d known that the next book in this series was coming out in November, I’d have held off on reading this for a while! I mean, I’m glad I did read it — Jennifer Lynn Barnes consistently writes amazing stuff — but these next few months are going to feel interminable!

Anyway, Little White Lies follows a scrappy young woman named Sawyer Taft who’s lived a fairly hardscrabble life with her flighty single mom. When her grandmother Lillian shows up and offers Sawyer half a million dollars for college and expenses in exchange for Sawyer undertaking a debutante season and coming out to southern society, Sawyer agrees, primarily because moving in with her grandmother will make it much easier for her to finally figure out who her biological father is. Sawyer’s many unusual interests make her a talented sleuth, and her natural resilience and bluntness allow her to adapt to what’s essentially a foreign culture without losing her own identity, but even she is blindsided by her rapid and unwitting involvement in kidnapping and theft, among other felonies and lesser misdemeanors.

A large part of the charm of this novel lies in Sawyer’s navigation of and cultural clash with the moneyed, genteel world her mother ran away from, and the humor that comes from such dissonance. That’s to be expected: perhaps less obligatory is the display of the strong bonds of friendship that grow between the four young women at the heart of this book. The way they connect and fray apart and come together once again, in pursuit of the truth and justice — even if only within the confines of their insular society — makes for some truly entertaining and ultimately heart-warming storytelling. I do wish there’d been a little more diversity in this book, and am definitely hoping for it in the next. Even so, I can’t wait to read more, tho ugh November feels so far away!

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