Trust Me: Ashley Elston’s Favorite Unreliable Narrators in YA

Trust Me: Ashley Elston’s Favorite Unreliable Narrators in YA

unreliable narrators

When we have a craving for an unsettling mystery, we go to a source we know we can truly trust: Ashley Elston, author of The Lying Woods. Elston’s latest follows Owen, a teenager who learns that everything he thought he knew about his father may be a lie. On his search for the truth, Owen uncovers even darker secrets lurking in his home town. As a mystery writer, Elston knows a thing or two about crafting a tale of deception. Here, she shares some of her personal favorite unreliable narrators.

The key to a great mystery or thriller is the unreliable narrator. Are they lying? Are they telling the truth? It’s easy to get sucked in, gobbling up every line the narrator dishes out, as the reader tries to separate fact from fiction. And my favorite part: Just when you think you have it all figured out… you don’t.

So here are some of my favorites!

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

As the name suggests, one of the four teens suspected of killing one of their classmates during detention is lying… but is it just the one? Or are they all lying? One of Us Is Lying combines two of my favorite things: murder mysteries and awesome 80s movies! I was lucky enough to meet Karen at the Louisiana Book Festival and one of the highlights of our panel was the gasp that rippled through the crowd when she told them she was working on a sequel!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

“And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.” This is one of those stories where the less you know going in, the better. The story of the Sinclair family and what happened to them unravels slowly and you can’t trust anything. The writing is beautiful and the twists are expertly done.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary allegedly kills a baby when she is nine years old and is in “baby jail.” It’s only once she’s in a group home six years later that Mary decides to fight to clear her name. Jackson uses newspaper articles, transcripts, and depositions, along with Mary’s point of view to reveal the details of the crime. This one will leave you guessing until the end.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie is on a mission to kill the man who killed her sister. The addition of the podcast, The Girls, as a POV in this book made it one of my favorite reads of the year. The story is gripping and it’s hard not to feel panicked while you’re following along on the hunt with Sadie. If you’ve fallen in love with true crime podcasts like I have, this is the book for you.

Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell

I’m a sucker for a dual timeline and this one did not disappoint! The present-day timeline is the 24 hours after Audrey is woken up and forced to evacuate her home due to wildfires in the area and the second timeline takes place in the months leading up to this day. This is a complex tale of young love, toxic relationships, and dark secrets that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Ashley Elston is the author of several novels including: The Rules for Disappearing (a finalist in the Best Young Adult Novel category of the International Thriller Writers Thriller Awards) and This Is Our Story. She has a liberal arts degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport and worked for many years as a wedding photographer before turning her hand to writing. Ashley lives in Shreveport with her husband and three sons. For more information about Ashley and her books, please visit


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