Dana Reinhardt offers up laughs with a healthy dose of terrible behavior in TELL US SOMETHING TRUE!
River Anthony Dean, the protagonist of Tell Us Something True, is wonderful but certainly polarizing. See, unlike many protagonists, River is not the “good guy,” nor is he particularly villainous. He’s a bit of a trainwreck– an attention-seeking, codependent sad sack who thinks pathological lies will help him find a better place in life. He’s kind of a teenage, male, American Bridget Jones: A bit cringe-y, but that doesn’t stop you from rooting for him. Underneath it all, you know that River isn’t trying to make things worse for himself, but oh, does he.
See, when River’s first love dumps him unexpectedly, he finds himself stumbling into A Second Chance, support group for teens with addiction issues. He’s just looking for someone to talk to, so what’s a little white lie about marijuana addiction? And what’s so wrong about lying to his family and best friends about where he goes every Saturday night? If it stops him from thinking about his ex and helps him understand the complexities of life a little better along the way, how can ever let up on the lie?
Things get complicated when River begins to get attached to the troubled teens at A Second Chance, particularly a shoplifter named Daphne who has a lot to teach him about the world he’s been ignoring in his Westside LA bubble. But relationships are strictly forbidden in the group. Plus, River is still in love with Penny… right?
River and Daphne, who have a sweet, calming type of chemistry, are joined by a charming cast of secondary characters. There are River’s childhood school friends: Luke, Will, and Maggie. They’re the people River knows inside and out, and sometimes takes for granted. We especially loved Maggie, the tough girl of the group who’s not afraid to call it like she sees it. Christopher and Mason at A Second Chance are a big part of River’s introduction to the severe problems other teens face. The novel even treated River’s ex, Penny, pretty fairly. We didn’t necessarily like her, but she wasn’t a ridiculous mean girl she-beast. We’re also quite pleased to report that this is one of those Young Adult novels in which the protagonist’s family is still involved without being a major part of his problems. His little sister, Natalie, was particularly delightful.
Along the way, there are plenty of inside jokes, jealousy plots, and more, but what we enjoyed the most about River’s story was how wonderfully real it was. It’s about teenagers clumsily navigating the world without knowing how to deal with their real issues. It’s about about the friends who pull us through the worst of times and the hilarious, genuine interactions we have with them. It’s about the inevitable consequences. It’s about learning that you, as you are, has to be enough. Tell Us Something True is about as true as it gets.
We also want to give some kudos to the book for being on the shorter side (as strange as that may be.) At only 201 pages, it’s a quick, entertaining read that can be done in a free afternoon. That’s rare in this age of multi-series tomes and we definitely enjoyed the change of pace.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS
Tell Us Something True is on sale now. Buy it now on Amazon.
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.