Six Truths and a Lie

Six Truths and a Lie
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Release Date
March 12, 2024
ISBN-13 978-0316564595
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Six Muslim teens are falsely accused of a deadly attack in this timely and harrowing examination of America’s justice system, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas and Samira Ahmed.

As fireworks pop off at a rowdy Fourth of July bonfire party, an explosion off the California coast levels an oil rig—resulting in chaos and worse, murder.
At the center are six Muslim teens - six patriots, six strangers, and six suspects.  

An old soul caught in the wrong place. An aspiring doctor. An influencer with a reputation to protect. A perfect daughter with secrets to hide. A soccer star headed for Stanford. An immigrant in love. Each with something to hide and everything to lose.

Faced with accusations of terrorism, The Six are caught in a political game that will pit them against each other in exchange for exoneration. They must choose: frame each other to guarantee their own independence or expose their secrets to earn back freedom for them all.

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(Updated: March 21, 2024)
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Six Truths and a Lie explores through a fictional story the discrimination in the American justice system regarding people of color and Muslims in particular. Ream Shukairy was ambitious in telling the story from six characters’ perspectives. I can understand that allows her to show many variations of Muslims in America. The drawback of so many characters is that it also slowed the action down in the beginning as we met each character and established their innocent behavior as they were just teens being teens at a Fourth of July school-sponsored party at the beach.

Then there was an explosion deemed a terrorist attack and police descended with force and our characters were swept up in the confusion and arrested. Where many Americans have the privilege of their name and physical appearance allowing them a certain benefit of the doubt it was exactly what led to these characters being condemned to a guilty until proven innocent status. We see an appalling abuse of civil rights and the fact that they are minors is particularly poignant. Since 2001, there have been many exceptions made to civil liberties when terrorism is suspected so it was believable but terrible to see our characters being subjected to freedom that isn’t free and protections that don’t protect.

The author made a lot of insightful glimpses into the power of the media, lawyers, and police to let prejudices color how hard they are willing to discover the truth. Even the language chosen has power. Explosive devices versus fireworks evoke vastly different emotions when used to accuse someone of a crime. There is also a counterpoint view of a billion-dollar company getting victim status while innocent teens can do nothing to protect themselves from vilification. While the company's role in keeping these teens incarcerated stretches the imagination a bit for this story it is not out of the realm of possibility of what could happen.

The exploration of our character's breakdowns as they deal with this situation is well done. Even when they are freed, they are treated as guilty and feared. No wonder there is rage and protests for those who are on the receiving end of this treatment. The character assassination of anyone held under police suspicion or has been through the courtroom system is shown in detail and leads to a hard look at our own biases.

The author does a nice job of rotating the characters’ perspectives throughout to show how even within the same community there are similarities and differences in the same situation. I will say that with the perspectives and interactions, I was floored by the revelation in the courtroom regarding the fate of one of the six. I didn’t go back and rehash every interaction to see if there were clues but I did feel downright betrayed at the reveal and the shift in perception I had with Qays character afterward. That honestly felt unnecessary and like it was there for literary shock value instead of the overall theme of the book. Not that I do not believe the action that night by the police is not plausible but his reaction to it after was a lot to find out he had not been a reliable narrator.

Overall, this book is rife for conversation and a hard look at what biases we carry for those deemed “other.” It would make a great book club or high school/college choice to explore themes of biases, prejudice, discrimination, religious/cultural minorities, immigrants, the justice system, media, language, big company protections, civil rights, laws, terrorism, and activism, just to name a few. I found the audiobook was particularly helpful in getting the names correct and empathizing with the emotions of these characters as they try to figure out how to get out of the nightmare, they find themselves a part of.
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