BOOK REVIEW: One Little White Lie by Pricilla Bleik

What do you get when you combine one problematic sister, an irritating mother, one awful husband, a worldwide major TV talent show and one hell of a lie? India is about to find out in Pricilla Bleik's debut novel One Little White Lie.

Thirty-something India Roman is somewhat trapped in her life; her condescending, uninterested husband leaves her to take care of their twins and her irritating mother is constantly on her case, mainly about India's younger sister Cylia - spoilt and bitchy with an array of anxiety disorders that have made India's mother give in to her every whim, resulting in India missing out on certain freedom of her own over the years.

When Cylia's mother and therapist encourage the youngest sibling to enter STAR, a worldwide quest to find the next singing sensation, Cylia agrees. Despite knowing that auditioning will be pointless with her sister's anxiety, she's forced, as per usual, to chaperone, having to endure Cylia's nasty jibes and the impending fear of an inevitable breakdown. And when cute, young Cylia is plucked from the audition queue and given the chance to showcase her talent in front of some of the harshest TV judges, she quickly makes a run for it - leaving India to quickly fill in, even though she's years over the age limit...

India takes her sister's place, getting through to the next round - however, after escaping the auditions, Cylia doesn't return home.

Naturally, their mother is distraught over her favoured daughter's disappearance, constantly pestering the police and India, who both believe she's just escaped for a while. If her missing sister and incessant mother aren't bad enough to deal with, things take a turn for the worse when husband Phil disappears too, leaving India with a staggering amount of debt...

Faced with the prospect of losing everything, India realises there's nothing she can do  - or is there? If she continues to take Cylia's place on STAR, just getting through the next few rounds will earn her thousands of much-needed pounds.

Despite breaking the rules with her age, India takes to the STAR stage as Cylia, getting to know the fellow contestants; from fame-hungry Helmet to kind American Lennie May. The youngsters are all in for the chance of fame and a contract - all besides India, whose plan is to get voted out and take the cash, all while hoping her family doesn't find out.

With the lies slowly stacking up and her sister still missing, things can only get more difficult - including run-ins with the toughest talent-show critics on television and the producer's own immoral goings-on behind the scenes at STAR. The TV talent contest isn't as fair as everyone thinks - and as India is about to find out, along with something a LOT more shocking...

One Little White Lie is one of the most enjoyable books I've read. To say that I couldn't put it down is an understatement - I simply had to find out what happened next and spent every spare minute with my Kindle in hand. The twist at the end is so shocking and unexpected, though made me enjoy this book even more - it's witty and amusing, yet at the same time, very dark. Even though the novel is set around an X-Factor-like talent contest, the book takes a step away from the glitz and glamour and focuses more on India, her family and the contestants, conveying a darker side to STAR, which I particularly liked. This is Pricilla's first novel - a very different tale of TV talent stardom - and I really, really hope she writes many more novels in future!

Rating: 5/5

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