Publisher: Rock The Boat
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: July 20th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository
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.
Tell Us Something True starts with River taking his girlfriend, Penny, on what is supposed to be a romantic date in a pedal boat, but then Penny tells him that she wants to break up, and River is left utterly confused. Refusing to be driven home by her, River decides to walk back and stumbles upon a group for people who need a second chance. When he realises that the teens in the group are all trying to overcome a variety of serious problems from stealing to drugs, River panics and fakes an addiction to marijuana.
I really, really wanted to like this book more than I did. The blurb made the plot and River sound super interesting, but the plot fell flat and I failed to find anything likeable about River. The main problems I had with this book stemmed from River himself. There were a lot of issues about his character that didn’t sit right with me, starting with the fact that he was constantly showing up at Penny’s house after she’d broken up with him, determined to win her back even though she wasn’t comfortable with it. Break ups are difficult and upsetting, yes, but River didn’t come across as being genuinely hurt to me. It just felt like he was being whiny and selfish. He also made various comments throughout the book that made me cringe. Characters are meant to be flawed, they wouldn’t be interesting or believable if they were perfect. But you’re meant to root for them to get their redemption. I didn’t root for River, and by the end of the book I still didn’t feel like he’d redeemed himself.
Also, the issues River had over his father not being in his life felt forced, as though it had just been written in to give him more of an excuse for his behaviour. It had no real impact in the story and I didn’t feel River’s emotions over the situation. However, I did enjoy the scenes he shared with his step-father and also his younger sister. Those scenes made River feel more believable and showed a softer side to him that I wished we’d been able to see more of.
What I did love about this story was how it showed teens getting genuine help for their problems instead of romanticising them to seem edgy. Some of the characters who went to the meetings, Daphne, Christopher and Mason, were really fascinating and I would have loved the chance to learn more about them, but they faded into the background as the book mostly focused on River wanting to jump straight into a new romance with Daphne.
There was so much potential for this book to expand on the story beyond River’s broken heart. Whilst I knew going into it that the story was about a break-up, I didn’t expect so much of the book to be about River pining after Penny. There were some funny moments and the minor characters were great, but overall I don’t think this story was for me.