Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt
Published July 20, 2016 by Rock the Boat
Source: Bloomsbury AU
Rating: 4 stars
From the blurb: 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.
When I first read the blurb for Tell Us Something True, I immediately thought of one of my favourite books, About a Boy by Nick Hornby. It's a book I read via audio (I highly recommend Julian Rhind-Tutt's narration) and I can return to it again and again. The main character, Will Freeman, isn't the nicest guy, but there's something compelling about watching him stumble through his life, going from self-centred single guy, to someone with meaningful relationships.
Seventeen year old River Dean isn't quite on Will's level. He doesn't go to a support group for teens with the idea to trick them, he comes across it accidentally, and at a point when he really needs someone to talk to. Do his problems compare to those shared by the group? No, and River is aware of that the more he interacts with them.
This book shows such a realistic portrait of what it's like to be a teenager. River has become the sort of person who ditches their friends in favour of their partner, so when he gets dumped, his friends are right there to remind him of what a pain he's been and they don't hold back. It was also excellent to have his family present in the story, including his mum, step-dad, and half-sister.
River's actions probably won't sit well with some readers, but as I mentioned, he didn't do it maliciously. He does want to tell the truth but he finds it harder as he slowly befriends some of the kids in the support group. And there are definitely consequences for his actions and this is dealt with in the conclusion.
I love the setting of LA, it was easy to picture River walking around and learning how to take the bus. The setting was so vivid, I could easily picture this being made into a movie.
Tell Us Something True is an honest, fun, and clever take on what happens when a teenager lies his way into a support group, and the lessons he learns after meeting the participants.
Ableist language: lame, dimwit.
Cover illustration & design: Chris Silas Neal
This is such a bright and bold cover, and the illustrations made for a fun manicure.
I started with a base of China Glaze Happy Go Lucky, the perfect shade of yellow for this book. I used acrylic paint for River, Daphne, and the rain drops.