The Truth and Lies of Ella Black Emily Barr
Fiction Book Reviews

YA | The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

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It’s not often I get pulled into a blurb on a Netgalley email but that’s exactly what happened with Emily Barr’s The Truth and Lies of Ella Black.  Although the beginning threw me a bit, once I got further into the story, the more I enjoyed it.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black Emily Barr

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 2450.0 KB

Print Length: 349 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0141367008

Publisher: Penguin (12 Oct. 2017)

Language: English



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 . . .

I have to be honest and say that at first the story wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.  But that’s only because I wasn’t prepared for Ella’s psychological defence mechanism.  It’s an important part of the story and tells us much more about her first experiences than words, however, it took me quite a while to feel anything for Ella. Once that kicked in the countdown meant much more to me …

There are many layers to The Truth and Lies of Ella Black.  Yes, it’s a coming of age story (although I would hazard a guess that you haven’t read one quite like this) but it is so much more.  Her reactions at first are a typical teen with the world revolving around her.  Her experiences on the run teach her a lot, not just about life but about herself too.  She experiences love and betrayal.  It’s been interesting seeing Ella change from a 17yo wrapped up in cotton wool to a force to be reckoned with.

Things changed for me in the favela.  My heart got involved.  As the countdown brought us closer to the day I just didn’t want it to happen.  She’d found her tribe (even it was only temporary) and surely there would be a future for her?  What could possibly happen?

There’s more than one twist to this story.  The ending turned everything I thought upside down.  Now I wasn’t so sure.  Learnt behaviour?  Nature?  Nurture?  What did that say about her adopted parents?  I love a story that is ambiguous and leaves me with no concrete answers.  Plenty to ponder …



YA readers will identify with the feelings of a teen and possibly take inspiration from Ella’s experiences.  Strength, determination, resilience.  Traits we all aspire to.  One for your reading lists.

Connect with Emily Barr


 Twitter @emily_barr


YA novels on Jera’s Jamboree

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 8+ years. My love of reading, crocheting and being out in nature are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school. I'm passionate about early help and sharing strategies with families to empower and help build resilience. I'm a member of of my Local Authority's Early Help Operational Board, working alongside other professionals to instigate change and growth.

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