Genre: YA Contemporary, Family
Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.
There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.
Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…
I didn’t know what to expect with this novel. I had only glanced over the synopsis, and to be frank, the cover totally sold me. Luckily, I enjoyed this novel, and quite surprised with how much this book made me think.
This novel follows Vanessa, the middle child of a family whose mother is terminally ill. This, obviously, impacts her life to a huge extent. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because it’s hard to explain and there’s a huge plot twist that I don’t want to spoil. However, despite the slow beginning, the novel speeds up towards the middle and really grasped my attention.
This is a very character-driven story, which I don’t usually read, but this book did an amazing job of looking into all aspects of the character of the family. Although the main character is Vanessa, it’s not all about Vanessa. Through actions and natural conversations, it’s clear that this event greatly impacts both her sisters and father in very different ways. Vanessa’s struggles were so real to me, which made it easy to connect and relate to her.
There was also a hint of romance, but it wasn’t anything too big. You know those books where if, hypothetically, you took out the romance, the plot would be essentially nothing? This book is not like that at all. The romance was sweet but a bit too short for my romance-loving likes. The most of romance in TELL ME SOMETHING REAL was love within the family, and how Vanessa handled the difficult situations thrown at her.
Overall, TELL ME SOMETHING REAL pleasantly surprised me with its themes of family, betrayal, and love as well as its well-written characters. This novel was complex, original, and wholly compelling. Although this novel was slow at some parts, it is overall a quietly brilliant piece of writing. If you’re looking for a moderately slow-paced novel with deeply complex characters and family intrigue with a hint of romance, I highly recommend this one!
Calla Devlin is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award whose stories have been included in numerous literary journals and in anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine.
Tell Me Something Real is her first book.
3 Finished Copies of TELL ME SOMETHING REAL (US Only)
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