ARC Review: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

Title: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

Author: Emily Barr

Series: N/A

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 11th 2018


Two Stars

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…

– Blurb courtesy of

I received an ARC of this book free from Penguin Platform. It in no way affects my views on The Truth and Lies of Ella Black.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“It feels as if we are running away, but we can’t possibly have anything to run from because we are normal and boring and law abiding; or at least they are. We’re running away from something they’re not telling me about.”

To everyone else Ella lives a normal, quiet life. Only Ella knows about the voice inside her head, the Bad Ella (Bella), who takes over to commit angry and terrible acts when Ella loses control. Ella manages to keep Bella buried, away from the people she cares about, but when her parents suddenly pull her out of school in the middle of the day she fears the worst. Instead of taking her to hospital like she thinks Ella’s parents are taking her to Rio de Janeiro, but there’s still something they’re hiding.

After reading The One Memory of Flora Banks I didn’t have high hopes for this book, so I wasn’t disappointed when it turns out I didn’t enjoy The Truth and Lies of Ella Black either. In fact if anything, I think I enjoyed this one even less than The One Memory of Flora Banks. In the very beginning there’s horrible animal abuse which put me off the book immediately, and throughout there was so much about the story and Ella’s actions which made no sense.

“I say the only word I can think of that will lead me to a place where Christian and the Blacks will not think to look for me.
They won’t look for me because it’s too dangerous.
Everything is dangerous.
Bring it on.”

Determined to find out what her parents are hiding Ella starts digging into their belongings; and discovers something which brings her world down around her and has her running from her parents and the safety of their hotel into the streets of Rio. Desperate to remain hidden Ella ends up in the slums trying to discover the truth of who she is, but the more she digs into her past the more she uncovers dark truths she wishes she never found.

There was a lot happening in Truth and Lies of Ella Black, it was a fast paced story so I was never bored reading it, but I was constantly questioning Ella’s decisions. Nothing she did made any sense in my mind, and the fact that she was in a foreign country just made her actions all the more un-understandable. One thing I did enjoy was the setting. Like with Svalbard in The One Memory of Flora Banks the setting of Rio de Janeiro in this book was incredibly written, and it really made me want to visit Brazil to see it all for myself.

…The Characters

“I call her Bella because she is the dark side of me. It’s Ella but not. It’s Bad Ella. Bella. I thought of that a few years ago and it made it a bit better, because before that I called it the Monster.”

Ella was a character I could not stand. In a way she’s almost two characters, because we’re not just introduced to Ella at the beginning of this book but Bella as well. Ella is a push-over; she’s quiet and meek and doesn’t stand up for herself. When her parents decide to whisk her off to Rio for an impromptu holiday she doesn’t question them much beyond asking ‘where are we going?’ a couple of times. Bella could have been a really interesting side to Ella’s character, but the animal abuse was a huge no for me.

If her actions in this book had made more sense then Ella’s journey would have made for brilliant reading. She discovers her parents aren’t actually her parents (not really a spoiler considering it’s revealed in the blurb) and she runs away, needing to work out who she really is now she knows she’s not ‘Ella Black’. She seeks a connection with her birth mother, wonders about her situation, and what could have caused her to give up her baby. There are times when Ella seems like a really smart character, she’s conscious enough to know how to avoid getting caught as she runs away from her parents, but other times she made really stupid decisions which seemed like a 180.

“It is like being electrocuted. I recognize something in his eyes. He’s a stranger; yet I know him. This boy is one of the main characters in my life.”

Again, like with The One Memory of Flora Banks – I feel like I’m comparing these two books a lot in this review. I really don’t mean to be but there were similarities between the two despite them not connecting in any other way – there was a huge case of insta-love in this book, and this time it didn’t work. Ella catches a glimpse of Christian in an elevator and suddenly she’s planning their life together. They spend one evening out at a bar, kiss once, and suddenly Ella is ready to sleep with him and Christian is helping Ella run away from her parents and acting as a liaison between them because Ella’s not ready to go back. Their relationship made no sense, and there was zero development between them either—at least in The One Memory of Flora Banks there were the emails shared between Flora and Drake to develop their relationship.

“Ella,” says Dad. I’m glad it’s him speaking rather than her. “Look. I know this is frustrating. There are a few things we just can’t tell you right now. It’s nothing terrible. Please just trust us for a while.”

Ella’s parents were probably the only characters I felt could have been well written, but unfortunately we don’t get to see much of them before Ella flees. Her parents are doing everything they can to keep their daughter safe, but it isn’t enough. You can see their desperation as they try to keep Ella in the dark, but you can also see the time bomb in their family waiting to explode as Ella works against them to uncover the truth.

It’s the characters where this book fell flat for me. I was not a fan of Ella and that made it really hard to care about her journey. There’s a lot happening in the story, some of it felt highly unrealistic, but I couldn’t get into this book because there was no connection with the characters. In the end, for me, the only thing The Truth and Lies of Ella Black has going for it is the setting.

What did you think of The Truth and Lies of Ella Black? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

13 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

  1. Yikes. That character doesn’t sound like any fun. I hate running into a character whose action makes zero sense. It really kills it for me. What made you want try this book out even if you had a bad experience with this author before? 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly! I feel like I spent most of the book frowning as I tried to work out what was going on in Ella’s head that made her even consider the choices she made you know? 🙂
      Well I got an ARC of this one so I figured I should really read it, and I only picked up The One Memory of Flora Banks the day before I got around to this one. I guess I just hoped this one would be better (but in the end it really wasn’t).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the second I read that scene in this book I was really put off. It wasn’t even a necessary part of the story (not that that would make it any better) but it was just used to show how ‘evil’ Ella’s alter-ego could be. Ha, yeah my hopes weren’t high for this one at all. 😀


  2. Oh I’m so sorry you didn’t love that one, Beth! After reading the synopsis, I have to admit that I was intrigued by the story, but I’m sorry to hear that it was so messy and that the characters’ actions and decisions were so confusing. It’s always bothering when you can’t properly follow this way, especially if you’re not rooting for the character or enjoying her either, haha.
    I hope your next read will be better, Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t really have high hopes for reading this one, but yeah overall I still didn’t enjoy the story. I feel like if this hadn’t been an ARC I would have DNF-ed it. If the blurb still interests you I’d say pick it up, you never know this could be one you end up enjoying (there are some good reviews out there for this book). 😀
      Ella was a character I really couldn’t connect to, none of her decisions made sense to me and as this was a first person POV book that kind of killed this one for.
      Thanks Marie, and actually yeah the book I picked up after this one was a much better read as well. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah shame about this one, but it does sound rather… implausible tbh. It’s good that it was fast paced, but a real problem that Ella was so unlikeable, cos yeah that does get in the way of connecting with the story. Oh no, instalove is so off-putting too. It’s a shame, cos the setting does sound good. Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did kind of have a feeling I wouldn’t enjoy this one that much given I wasn’t a massive fan of The One Memory of Flora Banks. Still yeah it was just too implausible for me and I think the fact that I didn’t like Ella’s character was the worst because the book was told in first person POV and I think in stories written that way you need to be able to connect with the character. 🙂
      This was probably one of the worst cases of insta-love I’ve read in a while, it really did come out of nowhere.
      Thanks! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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