Anna, Emma, and Mariah are three fourteen-year-old girls who find out just how easy harmless lies can be to tell
- and just how harmful they can turn out to be. The first time they lie to their parents in order to sneak out, they don't get caught. Nothing bad happens. And so they try it again.
When Emma's parents discover that the three girls weren't at the movie they claimed to be seeing, they call their daughter and the other parents. To avoid getting in trouble at home, the friends concoct a story to explain their whereabouts. Their intentions are only to get out of trouble and then for their story to be forgotten about. Soon, however, their lie and its consequences have spread far out of their control.
Harmless is Dana Reinhardt's second young adult novel, and it is one that's well worth reading. Her first, A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life, was better, but that's not to say that this one isn't excellent. Reinhardt handles the confusion of having three first-person narrators alternating chapters fairly well (although I had to flip back and check who was narrating once or twice), and all three of her protagonists
are, for the most part, fleshed-out and well-developed characters, not to mention the three-dimensional background characters that populate this novel.
Reinhardt is a talented writer; her narratives (or rather,
the three alternating ones) flow nicely. This book that could easily be read in one sitting if a reader has the time. Some books need breaking up into smaller pieces, for either good or bad reasons; this isn't one of those. Its
being a quick, engaging read will make it popular even with
Harmless is a suspenseful page-turner throughout. Readers can, as the lie spirals out of control, foresee to some extent the consequences that are sure to come, consequences that the three girls are blind to, but it is an absorbing read
as we anxiously wait to see just how the truth is revealed.