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Little White Lies
Cover of Little White Lies
Little White Lies
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Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White’s Tumblr, Little White Lies—her witty thoughts on pretty much . . . everything—has gone viral. She’s got hundreds of thousands of followers; she’s even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a secret. She hasn’t been writing all her own posts. Stressed from the demands of the sudden attention, she hired an expert ghostwriter, forty-one-year-old Karl Ristoff, to keep the Tumblr going. Now consumed with guilt, she confesses.

Almost instantly, she suffers a public humiliation. The TV deal disappears. Her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a dramatic fall himself. Together, they vow to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives, and why. But in order to exact justice and a wicked revenge, they must first come clean with each other.
Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White’s Tumblr, Little White Lies—her witty thoughts on pretty much . . . everything—has gone viral. She’s got hundreds of thousands of followers; she’s even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a secret. She hasn’t been writing all her own posts. Stressed from the demands of the sudden attention, she hired an expert ghostwriter, forty-one-year-old Karl Ristoff, to keep the Tumblr going. Now consumed with guilt, she confesses.

Almost instantly, she suffers a public humiliation. The TV deal disappears. Her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a dramatic fall himself. Together, they vow to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives, and why. But in order to exact justice and a wicked revenge, they must first come clean with each other.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book What are the takeaways from this early morning rant?
         1. Eat something for breakfast that wasn’t created in a lab.
         2. Loving your parents doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong.
         3. Roll your eyes like no one is watching. But they always are.
         4. Dante de Blasio, call me in five years.
         5. And for God’s sake, make sure that your subway seat isn’t wet before you sit down.

    It wasn’t even 8 a.m., and I’d already commented on five
    Facebook statuses, eaten a garbage breakfast, and written my very first blog post. All while my parents sat at the table and stared at their iPads. Ah, modern technology, you’ve really let the family unit disconnect from each other. Something every teenager is supremely grateful for.
         Keys, homework, gum, phone, laptop. According to Google Maps, I had six minutes to get to the train, which really meant I had five.
         “Gotta go. See you guys tonight,” I mumbled, halfway to the door.
         My father is not a fan of my “I’m a teen on the go” routine. He watched me fumble with my backpack, smirking. My parents, you see, don’t fumble with anything. They are clean-cut and put together. Everything that they do, they do with purpose. I knew Dad had already been up for two hours, worked out, ironed his new suit, and made breakfast, all while looking like a J.Crew model. Ahem, an old J.Crew model, of course.
         “Coretta, do you have anything you’d like to say before you just march out of the house?” he asked.
         “Umm . . . bye?”
         “Very funny,” my mother chimed in. “When are you coming home? What do you have after school?”
         “I have Spanish club from three to four, and I’m volunteering at SKOOLS 4 ALL from four to six. And yes, I’ll be riding the train with Rachel tonight, so don’t worry.”
         Both my mother and father were aware that “volunteering at SKOOLS 4 ALL” was code for “hanging out with my boyfriend Mike.” It’s not that we weren’t doing volunteer work or anything; it’s just that we were also doing a fair amount of making out basically anywhere we could. Either way, it was going on my college applications. (Not the making-out part.) Call it a draw.
         “I really do have to go, though,” I said.
         My mother really, really isn’t a fan of my “I’m a teen on the go” routine.
         People always tell me I look like her, but I don’t think my eyebrows have the power of judgment that hers do. She’s not J.Crew striking. She could be pulled from a JCPenney catalogue: pretty, poised, and maybe milquetoast. This is misleading. Get my mother into a debate, and you will lose.
         “You know, Coretta, you should wake up earlier if you need more time to get organized in the morning,” she said. She finally lifted her eyes from her iPad.
         Right after she glared at me, she gazed at my dad, all gooey like they were my age. I could tell she thought he looked cute in his new suit. Gross.
         And let’s all take into account that my mother has tried to get me to wake up earlier since I was in preschool. It’s...
About the Author-
  • Brianna Baker is an actress, improviser, writer, and lover of cheese who lives in Los Angeles, California. Brianna graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University. Her autobiographical one-woman show Bede, about her blissfully ignorant childhood as a biracial tomboy, was named one of the Best Comedy Shows by Timeout Chicago. She co-wrote, co-created and co-starred in the award-winning web series Young Couple. Despite her greatest efforts, Brianna is still not very good at math.
     
    F. Bowman Hastie III is at least as old as Karl Ristoff. He has ghostwritten for such #1 New York Times bestselling young adult authors as Newbery winner Katherine Applegate and Francine Pascal, the iconic creator of the Fearless series and the Sweet Valley series, which has sold half a billion copies worldwide. The first book to carry his own name was Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist, the biography of his Jack Russell terrier, the late Tillamook Cheddar a.k.a. Tillie. Mr. Hastie lives in Brooklyn with Tillie’s son, Doc Chinook Strongheart Cheddar.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 23, 2015
    When Coretta White’s new Tumblr, Little White Lies, becomes an overnight sensation, she’s overwhelmed by the attention and opportunities that arise. So Coretta, a privileged, high-achieving black 17-year-old, secretly enlists the services of a 41-year-old white ghostwriter, Karl, to pose as her on Little White Lies, thereby creating the biggest Little White Lie of all—until their secret is revealed to the world. Chapters alternate between Coretta and Karl’s perspectives, but Karl’s often self-aggrandizing and condescending adult narration feels out of place in the story. Soon-to-be-outdated political, social, and pop-culture references pepper the novel, along with long-outdated ones from Karl, which are awkwardly explained in an appendix. Plot inconsistencies (such as why Karl posts without Coretta’s permission almost immediately after he promises that he won’t), scandals heaped atop scandals, and frequent shifts into text/email/chat exchanges make for a jumbled narrative. Baker and Hastie, both newcomers to YA, aim to explore tricky ethical and racial territory, but their novel largely feels like it’s at war with itself. Ages 14–up. Agent: (for Baker) Kristyn Keene, ICM; (for Hastie) Don Fehr, Trident Media Group.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2015
    Is co-opting a persona or a culture that's not one's own ever OK--even when given permission to do so? Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Coretta White starts her Tumblr, Little White Lies, to vent some redirected aggression against her parents' opinions about politics and life. As the blog swells in popularity, Coretta collapses from her "teen-on-the-go" responsibilities of keeping up with her schoolwork, after-school activities, and social media-mediated social life. She gains respect from her popular "black Ken doll" boyfriend, Mike Cornelius, his "very prominent African-American venture capitalist" parents, and her peers, but she feels her friendship slipping with her best friend, Rachel Berstein. Exhausted, Coretta confesses to Rachel that, as much as she loves blogging, she can't maintain it. Rachel helps out, and through a mysterious family connection, she brings in professional ghostwriter Karl Ristoff, a "middle-aged white man," to take over writing the blog just as Coretta is offered a chance at her own TV show. And Karl does--almost too well and with some nasty ethical repercussions. Authors Baker and Hastie tell a jovial-enough yarn about an innocent-enough racial, gender, and age ventriloquism act that goes humiliatingly awry. But, like too many adults writing fiction for teens, they try too hard to be hilariously hip, and it shows. As the kids say nowadays, that's not OK. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-Coretta White is a bright 17-year-old black girl whose new "Little White Lies" Tumblr-an expose of her clueless and awkward parents-has gone viral virtually overnight. She finds herself stuck between celebrity and success, unable to keep up with the demands for new content. She secretly hires a ghostwriter, Karl-a 41-year-old white man. Now, with thousands of followers and a TV deal in the works, Coretta must decide if she can stand the guilt of her false successes. The protagonist eventually confesses, and she loses everything-her media deal, boyfriend, and reputation-while she watches Karl get all the recognition and step into her place in the limelight. This book offers a modern teenage dream in real time that ultimately leads to a crash and burn-proving that people are not always what they appear. At times, this novel reads like a trendy gossip magazine, but the fun, quick pace and strong female protagonist elevate it. Coretta's parents, refreshingly, aren't the typical absent parents of YA. VERDICT This book screams pop culture but may also spark deeper discussions about cultural appropriation and honesty.-Christina Pesiri, Michael F. Stokes Elementary School Library, Island Trees-Levittown NY

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2016
    Grades 9-12 Because she can no longer idly sit by and consume the Little White Lies that her parents tell, Coretta channels her frustration into a debut blog post about power, politics, mixed-race identity, Afros, and Rosa Parks. The blog goes viral, and Coretta's 4.0, extracurriculars, college apps, and relationships begin to falter. Desperate, she hires Karl, a social media wordsmith, as a ghostwriter, and the middle-aged white man pulls off impersonating an African American teenage girl. When the billionaire Skool twins give Coretta her own TV show, she and Karl are confronted with a challenge neither ever expected. Written in alternating she-saidhe-said chapters by comedian Baker and real-life ghostwriter Hastie, this is an over-the-top, ripped-from-the-headlines morality tale sure to be in demand by media-savvy teens familiar with Bey and Kanye, #BlackTwitter and white privilege, after-school altruism, and scam laptop donations to Africa. Today's brave new world demands more than just the three Rs; Baker and Hastie prove revenge and redemption are requirements, too.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

  • Midwest Book Review "Little White Lies is a compelling read based on an all too real possibility in today's teen world of social media."
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    Soho Press
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Brianna Baker
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