(Cover picture courtesy of Luxury Reading.)
Carson Calley grew up living in Hollywood motels with his fortune-telling mother, who is full of stories about their former lives together and prophesies about his future.
We were Indians—Californian Indians. This pale skin was once native brown. And these legs of yours were once big and strong so that you could run after deer and shoot them with your arrows, and then bring the meat back to me. You were destined to be the great medicine man, the great healer who would take away all the pain and disease and suffering of our people.
Believing his mother’s yarns, Carson becomes a healer, with the people of Hollywood waiting in long lines to see him, but a purpose built on lies and exaggerations can’t last…or can it?
[Full disclosure: I received a free print copy from Candi Sary in exchange for an honest review.]
I wasn’t really sure what I expected from Black Crow White Lie. Maybe I expected your typical coming-of-age story or maybe I thought Candi Sary would go much deeper into Native American spirituality and explore it in the modern world. But her book is neither and it really turns some genre tropes on their heads.
Carson is a fascinating character. In the beginning he’s quite naive about his mother and her obvious drinking problem, but what makes him different from other protagonists in the same genre is that he slowly realizes his mother isn’t perfect. It’s not a sudden proverbial dropped ton of bricks, but rather a gradual realization as he’s exposed more to the world outside his mother’s fantasies. I don’t want to give too much away, but his friends like Casper and Faris eventually help him come to a startling conclusion. Part of why I enjoyed Candi Sary’s writing so much is that she really took the time to flesh out all of her characters, but really focused in on Carson as the protagonist. He’s imperfect, but I love him as a character anyway.
The plot is pretty fast-paced, all things considered. Black Crow White Lie packs quite a bit of story into 159 pages but it never does really feel rushed. No, instead there’s a perfect balance between characters and plot because of how the plot is moved forward by Carson’s actions and realizations. As he grows, the plot moves along and that’s what makes this one of my favourite coming-of-age novels: it’s most definitely character-based but not at the expense of the plot.
Really, what more is there to say? Carson, Faris, Casper and Juliette are all fascinating characters that are so well-developed you feel that you’re there in the story with them. Carson is an amazing protagonist for such an amazing coming-of-age novel and is definitely one of the most memorable characters I’ve read about in a long time. Not only that, there were some interesting plot twists that I didn’t see at the time but when I look back make sense. Candi Sary knows just how much information to give to her readers at certain points in the novel so there’s never really a huge info-dump but we still know what’s going on. Overall, Black Crow White Lie is an awesome novel that I’d recommend to readers of all ages.
I give this book 5/5 stars.