Title: Tell Us Something True
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Published: July 20th 2016
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: 202 pages
Source: Paperback from the publisher
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
For fans of Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Smith, E.L. Lockhart, and John Green, this delightful, often comic coming-of-age novel stars the lovable, brokenhearted River, the streets of LA, and an irresistible cast of characters.
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.
I picked this book up because the blurb sounded interesting, the cover caught my attention, and it was blurbed by E. Lockhart. When she says ‘I promise you’ll fall in love with River Dean’, she isn’t lying. I was swept up in this book almost immediately and would have read it in a single sitting if I didn’t have work that required sleep!
River Dean has just been dumped by his perfect girlfriend, Penny, and he isn’t sure what he’s supposed to do. After mulling things over in a pedal boat, he starts the long walk home where he sees a sign – THE sign – ‘A Second Chance’. Hoping to reflect on his lack of thinking on things, River joins the support group for teens struggling with addictions and creates a fake addiction in an effort to fit in with them. When he starts to fall for one of the members, River takes stock on his life and just exactly how he ended up in the situation he has found himself in. With his lies mounting and the consequences behind them growing larger and larger, River must make a decision about the truth.
This is such a charming story and I fell in love with it immediately. River isn’t perfect, not by a long shot. He’s selfish and incredibly self-centered. When he was with Penny, he neglected his friends. Without Penny, he spends all his time pining for her and still neglecting his friends. When he joins the support group, it’s all about how the new girl in his life helps to make him feel better and forget about Penny. Sure, I loved him. He was awkward and snarky and he did try really hard, but he definitely wasn’t perfect. I feel like he definitely grew over the course of the book, but he still had a long way to go by the end – and he acknowledges that.
Penny was a sore spot for me. When she dumped River at the beginning, I could understand where she was coming from. She was completely right about him and it made sense. But then seeing how she treated her maid, Juana, and River after they broke up made me dislike her a little. She struck me as a snob and I felt really sorry for poor Juana. When River hooks up with Daphne from the support group, Penny suddenly has an interest in him again and is trying to control his life from the outside – telling him that just before heading to college isn’t the right time to start new things i.e don’t get into a new relationship when I’m not kind of talk.
I loved the kids from the support group. They were all there for different reasons and they all had varying responses to River – even before he came out as a liar. They were an eclectic bunch and I think it was good for them to call River on his crap. River’s family was a wonderful addition too. Having a stepfather who was actually loving and supportive isn’t something I’ve seen a lot of lately. I also loved River’s little sister – who loved him so much that she wanted them to have the same last name!
The side-plot about his dead-beat dad was an interesting point. I found it strange that the man thought he could clear his conscience by paying for River’s college but not actually attempt to reach out to him in any way. It sucked that his dad was like that, but I think that’s what made his stepdad, Everett so great!
There’s some humour sprinkled throughout, some hard topics tackled in a tactful way, and a romance that isn’t the sole focus of the story – even if it seems like it at times with how obsessed River is with having a girl who likes him.
A quick read, perfect for the summer time, this is one that will leave you with a smile on your face after reading. I only wish it had been a little longer because I wasn’t ready to leave these characters!
About the Author
*Picture from author’s website