I read this one months ago, as it was a YALC proof, and I was quite excited about it. But I ended up sorely disappointed, and didn’t want to review it for a while, as I really wanted to think about whether the disappointment was merited.
It’s been a good few weeks now, and Ella Black has sat in the back of my mind. It’s now available on Amazon, and the hard copy will be available in January of next year, but I don’t think I’ll be recommending this one very heavily.
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 . . .
So the proof copy of this that I got presented a totally different story to what was in the blurb which is now on Amazon. The back of the proof copy talks about Ella’s alternate person in her head, Bella, bad Ella, and the things she makes Ella do. But the majority of the story is actually what’s set out in the blurb here, that Ella is mysteriously whisked off to Rio, and when she discovers a dark secret about her past, she runs away.
This is set against the backdrop of a love story so improbable as to be farcical, and Ella’s journey of discovering who she is and how she can find her place in the world. Plus, of course, the truth of who her birth parents were.
There was so much going on in this book, and I didn’t really connect with any of it. If the story had been about Ella coming to terms with who she is as a person and what ‘Bella’ does, then I might’ve been more of a fan of it. Equally, if the story had been about Ella and how she dealt with the revelations about her past and what her parents had kept from her, I might’ve been a fan of that. Thirdly, if the story had been about Ella falling in love in Rio and how she deals with how far away that is from her home, and everything she’s known, I could’ve liked that story too. But this was a mish-mash of all three of those things, and I wasn’t really able to connect with any of them.
There were some admirable parts of this book, though. There was a really funny scene with a waiter in Brazil, while Ella apologised for not being able to speak Spanish, and the cover art is absolutely beautiful.
But I couldn’t get on board with the melodrama at the end of the book, I didn’t believe the love story, I wasn’t impressed with Ella’s resolution of her relationship with her parents, and I left this book feeling pretty flat.
Not as terrible as this review makes it sound, I did find The Truth and Lies of Ella Black to be perfectly acceptable to read, but certainly not something I’d be raving about or recommending over other wonderful books from this year’s YALC.