40 Days Until She Dies! A Discussion Post about The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by @emily_barr

Discussion post

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black – the forty day time-scale

Marmite book

This books seems to have caused fierce ‘love it/hate it’ feelings amongst readers.  Was the dark side of Ella, who kills a bird within the first few pages, a step too far? Or is it something else? Do readers just find her selfish and unlikeable?

40 Days

What a great title for the first chapter! ’40 days until she dies’.

Why 40? Why is she going to die?

40 days strikes a familiar chord, since Jesus did it first, most famously, when he was being tested by the devil in the wilderness….  did Ms Barr have this in mind as a parallel when she decided on the time scale? Is Ella being tested, too?

Ella Black has forty days to find answers about her life, and a lot happens to her in that time. She changes a great deal and is forced to act, react and act again. Because we know her time is limited, the tension is massive – we’re going to be counting down with her!

My interpretation

Reading this book as a mother, perhaps, I had a different aspect from readers in Ella’s peer group. I wanted to reach out and help a child who was going through raw pain. I thought Ella evolved in her own way, and I liked it wasn’t a happy-ever-after as I imagine one to be, but it satisfied Ella. I don’t know how someone the same age as Ella might think about this character; I’d love to hear your opinions.

The discussion

Have you read this book? Did you see any significance in the number forty? Did you consider it as an important time-scale?

14 thoughts on “40 Days Until She Dies! A Discussion Post about The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by @emily_barr

  1. I received this book a couple of weeks ago from Penguin and between my huge TBR list and the horrendous reviews that the book has received, I’ve been putting it off. Reading your review I wonder if the author has marketed this in the wrong genre. I wonder if young adults would understand the book fully. I will get around to it at some point, then I’ll have a better understanding of others reviews.


    • Like you, I read a few of the reviews that didn’t like the book. I read the book myself before reading other reviews and it helped me form my own opinion for this book. I will be interested to hear what you think when you get to it.


  2. I won’t read it, because I’m a member of Audubon and I love birds. That kind of stuff just turns me off. With all the unpleasantness in the world today, I don’t have to be reminded of more cruelty.

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  3. I haven’t read this, but it’s interesting to think about how our experiences in life can affect our view of a book, like how you said looking at it as a mother gave you a different view than those in the character’s peer group. This sounds like a very different kind of book.


    • Exactly Kristen, it’s why we we all get something different from every book we read. I often prefer to read a book blind and not know what others thought before I open the pages.


      • Me too, if it’s a submission from here. Unless I’m choosing a book myself, in which case the reviews can make me buy or not buy, I never read the reviews until I’ve formed a definite opinion of it. Often that means a ‘phew’ when I discover it wasn’t just me…

        I’m a bit behind on my Emily Barr reading (you really MUST read Plan B and Cuban Heels!), but I must get to this some time.

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  4. I just came across this while browsing through Wordery and it definitely piqued my interest. I’m glad it isn’t disappointing, seeing your opinion, and I hope to get to it soon. The first chapter’s title is all the more intriguing, haha. It must’ve been a real page turner 😀


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