05 Jan / Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt [in School Library Journal]
River Dean, 17, is not a bad kid: he’s got warm relationships with his family (except his runaway dad), does well at school, and has good friends. But when Penny, the love of his life, dumps him, River starts making awful decisions, starting with stumbling into “A Second Chance” – a support group for teens with serious addictions – and inventing a marijuana habit in order to stay.
Feeling untethered, he keeps going back, armed with confessions adapted from a real-life addict’s blog. He’s especially drawn to a no-nonsense Latina teen named Daphne who uses shoplifting as a coping mechanism for her challenging homelife. The lies multiply until River is forced to “tell us something true.”
That Lincoln Hoppe imbues Reinhardt’s latest with such wistful longing and cautious hope is almost enough to overlook River’s unlikable characteristics (the lying, his stalking visits to Penny’s home, his manipulative use of his little sister, and his utter disrespect of the group’s rules forbidding dating among members). Despite the book’s narrative missteps, libraries will most likely want to add it to please Reinhardt’s already well-established audience; fans of Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, and Jennifer Niven will also find resonance here.
Readers: Young Adult