Caroline B. Cooney’s If the Witness Lied is a top-notch young adult thriller: suspenseful and atmospheric, with a solid line-up of appealingly flawed characters.
If the Witness Lied is the story of the Fountain siblings—oldest brother Jack, sisters Smithy and Madison, and two-year-old Tris. Everyone in the Fountains’ small town knows that baby Tris caused his parents' deaths (his mother delayed chemotherapy to give birth to him, and he accidentally released the parking brake on the family car, killing his father), but no one realizes that the children’s media-hungry aunt has every intention of exploiting Tris’s story for TV. When Jack discovers his aunt’s plans, he takes his little brother and runs, setting off a chain of events that shed new light on their family tragedy.
Our biggest concern about this book is that the wordy title and serviceable-but-subdued cover art might fail to catch the eyes of teen readers. Hopefully this isn’t an issue, because If the Witness Lied is virtually guaranteed to rock the socks off YA mystery fans. A few over-the-top plot machinations never hurt anybody, and the instant, hard-hitting emotional punch of Cooney’s story should be right up young readers’ alleys.