Excerpt from The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen X
The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2020, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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1

THOUGH IT WAS the end of summer, the heat still waited outside front doors along with the morning newspaper, both boding ill. So sequestered in their air-conditioned homes were the people of the city that, when it came time for the seasons to change, they didn't feel the newly autumn-tinged air. And perhaps autumn might have come and gone unnoticed if the long sleeves suddenly appearing in shop windows hadn't announced its arrival.

Standing in front of one of those windows now was a young girl, her reflection looking back at her from the glass—a bit short, a bit freckled. The mannequins peering at her from behind the glass were tall and pretty, and perhaps that was why the girl walked away quickly. A flock of pigeons took flight above her with a surprised flapping of wings. The girl muttered an apology as she continued walking, and the pigeons, having already forgotten what had frightened them, returned to perch on a nearby bench. At the entrance to the bank, a line of people snaked its way to the ATM. A deaf-mute beggar stood beside them, hand extended, and they pretended to be blind. When the girl's gaze momentarily met his, she once again mumbled an apology and hurried on—she didn't want to be late for her shift. As she was about to cross the square, a loud honk made her stop in her tracks and a large bus hurtled angrily past her. A poster on the back wished her a happy New Year. The Rosh Hashanah holiday was still a week away, but the streets were already filled with promises of big sales. Across the street, three girls her age were snapping pictures in front of the fountain, their laughter ricocheting off the paving stones. As she listened, she told herself over and over again, "I don't mind walking alone, I don't mind it at all."

She crossed the square quickly. Inside shops, red-haired saleswomen said, It looks lovely on you, adding, If I were you, I'd take two, as they stole glances at the clock. Bladders bursting, they could barely wait for their breaks. A charming young man stood at the counter, ringing up sales on the cash register with fingers that had run through his boyfriend's hair earlier that morning. Customers left the shops, their swinging bags twisting around each other, creating an urban rustling that was as much a harbinger of autumn as the rustle of leaves falling from treetops.

In the ice-cream parlor next door, the girl went behind the glass counter and began handing spoons of ice cream to those who wanted to taste, knowing that the summer vacation was about to end and no one had yet tasted her, the only girl in her class still a virgin, and next summer, when the fields yellowed, she would be wearing a soldier's army green.

Now she handed an ice-cream cone to the little boy standing in front of her and tried hard to smile as she said for the thousandth time that week, "Here you are." The next person in line asked to taste the fig sorbet. Nofar knew right away that he wouldn't buy fig sorbet. He would only taste it, along with ten other flavors, and in the end he'd ask for chocolate. Nonetheless, she handed him a bite of fig sorbet on a plastic spoon and glanced quickly at the clock above the counter. Only seven more hours to go.

At that very moment, the door opened and they stepped inside. She had been waiting the entire summer for this moment and had even written about it in great detail in her notebook: Yotam would come in and be surprised to see her there. She would offer him ice cream free of charge, and in return he would offer her a ride home on his motorbike. She would say that she still had a few hours left in her shift, and he would say that a few hours wasn't a long time to wait. But when the moment finally arrived, three days before the end of the summer vacation, Yotam didn't come in alone. He was surrounded by his crew of friends. And one of them was Shir, who, until four months ago, had still been Nofar's friend. Nofar's only friend, to be precise.

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Excerpted from The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen . Copyright © 2019 by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen . Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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