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Read Between the Lies

Written by Malcolm Duffy

Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4 Family / Home Stories Gritty Reads

LoveReading View on Read Between the Lies

Gripping, heartfelt story of dealing with dyslexia, family secrets and growing up

Alternating between the engaging narratives of two teenage boys, Malcolm Duffy’s Read Between the Lies is a riveting, read-in-one-sitting page-turner, sharing insights into dyslexia as it also explores family frictions and how to support the people around you.

Soon-to-be-stepbrothers Ryan and Tommy are as different as ice-cream and cabbage. Tommy has recently been released from a young offenders’ prison, while Ryan is a piano-playing good lad who’s moved down south with his dad following his parents’ divorce. In Ryan’s words, “Don’t do cooking but hear it’s all about the blend of ingredients. Same with families. Ours is all wrong. Like ice-cream and cabbage”.

Despite their marked differences, the teenagers do have something in common — they’re both dyslexic, but have very different ways of dealing with it. Tommy’s journey through handling prejudice against his criminal past (“a single bad decision doesn’t make you bad”) and learning to read is gripping, moving and - ultimately - uplifting, as is Ryan’s dedication to teaching Tommy to read.

As Ryan’s mum announces her plan for them to move, and Tommy discovers long-buried family secrets, the perfectly-paced plot ramps up the stakes, with plenty of humour and touching moments shining through the boys’ troubles.

Joanne Owen

More About This Book

Read Between the Lies is printed in dyslexia-friendly font.

Malcolm Duffy was the screenwriter on the award winning short Mical, an indie film based on the true story of a boy who can’t read and write until his mother take matters into her own hands. Pat and Mike Jones went on to develop the world-renowned dyslexia learning tools known as Nessy

Inspired by this experience, Malcolm decided to write his own dyslexia story, exploring the impact it can have on young people and those around them. His teenage daughter and his niece are both dyslexic. The more Malcolm researched, the more he discovered how common dyslexia is – as many as one in five people have it – and while some receive the support they need, many go undiagnosed. This became the catalyst for Read Between the Lines, the story of a teenager whose efforts to read lead him to a discovery that could destroy his family.

Malcolm worked with a dyslexia expert, Caroline Bateman of, to inform the experiences of his characters. He discovered that dyslexic minds invented the lightbulb, the iPhone, the aeroplane and the motor car, so far from being a drawback it brings many opportunities. Einstein was one the most famous dyslexic minds.

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Read Between the Lies Synopsis

Two very different boys, one new family, a shared struggle and a big secret. Ryan didn't want a new mum, let alone a new brother! But when his parents split up and his dad moves in with Naomi, she comes with Tommy - one year older, chucked out of his old school and now joining Ryan's class.


Suddenly sharing a home and a classroom with a complete stranger is a bit much. Flung together, the two boys clash, but gradually realise that they are more similar than they thought.

Prize-winning Malcolm Duffy's third novel explores the joys and challenges of dyslexia in a story full of his hallmark heart and humour.

Read Between the Lies Press Reviews

'An engaging book for young readers... with lies, secrets, and dyslexia at the heart of the story' - Armadillo Magazine

Praise for Me Mam, Me Dad. Me;

'Touching and compelling to the end ... It has sweetness and comedy, despite the gravity of its theme. And it is a lesson in standing up for yourself and others and finding the people who deserve your trust' - Sunday Times, Children's Book of the Week

'An intriguing premise and one that Duffy handles with aplomb. The empathy he has for his characters shines through' - Irish Times 

'For pitch-perfect teenage voices, you can't go wrong with Malcolm Duffy's Me Mam. Me Dad. Me.' - Irish Times, Best Books of the Year

Praise for Sofa Surfer;

'A crusading novel on a topic that sadly looks to be timeless' Financial Times

'Truthful, compelling and fearlessly insightful, Sofa Surfer, without any shadow of a doubt, lives up to the promise of Duffy's acclaimed and powerful debut, Me Mam. Me Dad. Me.Armadillo

'Duffy has a talent for imparting serious ideas entertainingly' - Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

Book Information

ISBN: 9781800241701
Publication date: 12th May 2022
Author: Malcolm Duffy
Publisher: Zephyr an imprint of Head of Zeus
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4
Topics: Disability / Special Needs, Family / Home Stories, Family Issues, Gritty Reads

About Malcolm Duffy

Malcolm Duffy is a Geordie born and bred. His debut novel, MeMam. Me Dad. Me. was inspired by his work as Creative Director ofComic Relief, meeting women who’d suffered domestic abuse. He is the screenwriter of MICAL, a film about dyslexia inspired by the true story of Pat and Mike Jones, to be realeased by Silverprince Pictures in 2020. Photo credit: James W. Fortune

More About Malcolm Duffy

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