The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr | REVIEW – Spoilers!!

The Blurb:

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .


Title: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

Author: Emily Barr

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 11th 2018

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I got an e-arc of this from NetGalley and I’ve also bought a physical copy but ended up with an arc!

There will be spoilers in this post so I don’t suggest that you read beyond this if you actually want to read this book, however I will mention that there is no trigger warnings and there is animal abuse at the beginning of the book.

I rarely ever write reviews for books I didn’t really enjoy, however I thought that for this book, it was needed.

I was so excited to read this book, so hyped and I adored Emily Barr’s The One Memory of Flora Banks! However this book was just so disappointing.

I don’t think the author handled things in this book very well at all – about 13 or so pages in, we meet Ella’s bad side, Bella. Her cat brings in a live animal and ‘Bella’ gets a hammer that Ella keeps in her room so that ‘Bella’ can smash and destroy things to keep her satisfied – anyway, ‘Bella’ grabs the hammer, puts the bird down and smashes it with a hammer to ease her bad side. I did not like this bit, at all. There were so many things the author could’ve done instead of killing an innocent bird and then saying Ella was putting it out of its misery. There was also no trigger warnings to say there’d be anything like this in the book, I’m a major animal lover and this just broke my heart.

Ella’s parents whisk her away to Rio after pulling her out of school but they won’t tell her why, so she ends up being a complete brat, acting absolutely awful to her parents and rebelling against them every moment she can, even though it’s her dream to go to Rio. The first morning there, Ella sees this boy in the lobby and is instantly in love with him and the only thing they say to each other is ‘Hola.’ Fast forwards to the second morning where Ella makes plans with the boy called Christian at breakfast to sneak out of her hotel room dead of the night to meet him at a bar nearby. Despite the fact, she doesn’t know anything about him and randomly decides to meet him even though he could be someone bad? (he’s not, but I’m just saying.) Anyway, she goes, they meet, they kiss and Ella is now “in love” with him. It’s an instant love scenario, don’t get me wrong, I believe in and understand love at first sight, but what I don’t believe or get is meeting someone, instantly saying you love them, even though you know nothing about them and acting like you’ve been in a relationship with them for ages. Plus Christian at the beginning just seems to be in it for sex because after spending the time at the bar the next day he asks if she could come to his room later on. I’m sorry but that’s not the kind of thing I’d want to do after knowing someone 5 minutes but obviously Ella is up to it.

However that doesn’t happen because Ella finally finds out what her parents have being hiding from her, she cracked open the safe and found out she was adopted. So she prepares to run away but her parents come back and they go to a bar to talk things out, her parents say they tried to tell her when she was younger but she refused to listen so they went to a doctor/therapist to find out why she was refusing to believe it and end up deciding maybe it’s best not to tell her, if it was me, I’d be upset but I wouldn’t go psychotic because my parents lied to me, they clearly tried to tell her but she wouldn’t have it. Her adopted parents love her and have done absolutely everything for her, she grew up with an amazing life. But finding out she’s adopted sends her absolutely crazy so she decides to smash her dad’s beer bottle and tries to hurt her mother but ends up accidentally slicing a mans cheek. Instead of gong rationally about it. She runs away.

Ella finds out who her real mother is when she runs away to an island and borrows someone’s laptop, it turns out her mother went to prison and her father too, for murder. Once finding out about this, Ella throws the laptop which isn’t even hers, onto the floor thus breaking it, and SURPRISE – running away once again.

The ending of this book was absolutely awful, and cut short, her real mother finds her and tries to talk to her about how she was glad she was caught because she didn’t really want to murder those people but her boyfriend – Ella’s real dad, I would say peer pressured her into it. So after her mother – Amanda – finally talks to her, and tries to get Ella to have some sort of relationship with her, which I understand that Ella doesn’t want to but I’m sure she has some questions she wants to ask her however pretty much after we meet Ella’s birth mother, Amanda is then promptly run over and killed.

There is an epilogue at the end of this book where Ella writes a letter or email to her adopted parents which lets us know that Ella stays in Rio and hasn’t seen her parents ever since she ran away, which I think is a bit harsh? They must be absolutely heartbroken that Ella wouldn’t come home after everything.

Sadly, I don’t recommend this book, I wish the author handled things better and more rationally but I was just let down and disappointed.

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