Title: Tell Us Something True
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Date Published: 14th June, 2016
Publisher: One World Publications
Genre: Bildungsroman, fiction, YA
Number of Pages: 208
Age Range: 16+
Overall Rating: 4/5
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Seventeen-year-old River doesn’t know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, breaks up with him. He lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a license. He’s stuck. He’s desperate. Okay . . . he’s got to learn to drive.
But first, he does the unthinkable—he starts walking. He stumbles upon a support group for teens with various addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings, and begins to connect with the other kids, especially an amazing girl. River wants to tell the truth, but he can’t stop lying, and his tangle of deception may unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all, true love.
As I started to read the first few pages of this book, I knew that I would finish it as I was laughing from the first page. This is unusual for me as I often take a while to warm to a new book if I do not feel the gripping urge to read on and I end up struggling to engage with it.
I have enjoyed several Young Adult contemporary novels before, but Tell Us Something True was a little different as it was narrated by a 17- year- old boy which is not something I’m entirely used to and at first thought, I was unsure if I would even enjoy it as I felt I wouldn’t relate to the main protagonist.
I don’t want to include too much depth into the plot merely due to spoilers but I really enjoyed the message than Reinhardt portrayed throughout this short novel about being connected with somebody, but how comfortable you can get at the same time. River was originally complacent in his situation before his break up, but as the plot progresses we can see his maturity develop into a more likeable character that’s not quite so naive and lazy as when we first met him – I actually began to relate to him which took me by surprise.
You connected with someone, and it might feel like that’s because of some otherworldly force, like fate or whatever, but you took risks and you opened yourself up to her and, well…that’s what makes this life worth living. Connections like that. Obstacles arose, as they will. You have to go and hurdle them, because if you leave it all to fate you’re ceding control to a force that’s made up. You have to believe in the power of your connections
Albeit likeable, River made many mistakes and lied his way through this novel and I felt like I was waiting for him to get found out (which, of course, he did). As lies and love got more tangled, the cover-ups began leading to his lies multiplying, and we were soon greeted by the sadder scenes which is where I realised how much I liked the him – I found myself really wanting him to be happy!
I feel that Reinhardt cleverly included some more in depth problems of River’s life later on it the novel. At first, we learnt that he was a middle-class white male so his main worries seemed rather insignificant, yet further along the plot we learn the struggles that he had regarding his father abandoning him, leaving us to pity him and take him a little more seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book and the character development throughout, but there are a few things that I was unsatisfied with.
I’m not going to spoil the ending in case anybody wants to go and read it (you should!) but I personally didn’t like how much happened in just a few chapters at the end. I felt that the novel could have been elongated a little more to finish so it didn’t feel as safe and rushed. I wanted to feel worried for the characters more than I was – part of me knew that nothing terrible was going to happen in the end. I am aware that this is a frequent occurrence in YA contemporary novels to finish on a high but I felt that some more story line could’ve been added to prevent it ending a little abruptly.
I also felt this book my have been just too young for me. Obviously this is no fault of the author; her target demographic is teenagers and young adults so this novel would certainly fit in to that category, but as a girl in her early twenties I did feel that the story line became a little predictable and young for my age range.
I read online that this book would be suitable for 14 years and up, and though I said this was a little young for me, I feel that the subjects included of drug addiction, bulimia etc may be a little sensitive for teenagers that young. I could be totally wrong of course and I know I sound like an old mum but that just my personal opinion! Reinhardt did discuss the controversial issues very sensitively and with respect nonetheless so I give her credit for that.
To summarise, I would recommend this novel to older teenagers and maybe those in their early twenties depending on your style. The book is not as cliche as it may seem at first glance, and there are definitely more layers than I had first anticipated in the characters. I completed this cover to cover in just a few days (including my work tea break) but you could definitely get through it on a rainy day at home where you need a little lift and laughter!
I rated this four out of five stars. The only reason I dropped one star is due to the ending feeling a little rushed and predictable to me, but I really enjoyed this novel on the whole and would like to check out some of Reinhardt’s other work. You can purchase Tell Us Something True from Waterstones here.
I hope you enjoyed this review of Tell Us Something True. This is not a sponsored post and all views are my own without any bias involved.
If you liked this post, then check out my other bookish post below! (hint: this one is included)