- ISBN-13: 9781481461153
- ISBN-10: 148146115X
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: August 2016
- Page Count: 304
- Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
In a story of betrayal and unsettling change, set in the 1970s, debut novelist Devlin introduces Vanessa, a middle child who feels as though her sisters outshine her and whose mother is dying of cancer. Vanessa and her sisters regularly travel back and forth from their home in San Diego to Mexico with their mother as she undergoes experimental cancer treatments involving Laetrile, a controversial cyanogenic drug illegal in the U.S. Soon, Vanessa's mother invites Caleb, a teenage boy with lymphoma, and his mother to move into the family's home, joining them in the commute for Laetrile. Writing through Vanessa's intimate and perceptive perspective, Devlin unspools the teenager's story languidly as she copes with loss, new love, and the ways her family is falling apart, especially after disturbing revelations about her mother's condition come to light. It's transporting reading, with a powerfully evoked 1970s setting, and readers will eagerly sink into Devlin's richly detailed writing, accompanying Vanessa on a journey marked by moments of deep connection and equally profound pain. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Aug.)
A group of siblings fight to keep the family close
Set in 1976, Calla Devlin’s impressive debut, Tell Me Something Real, is a compelling coming-of-age novel with a trio of sisters at its center. The Babcock siblings—tight-knit but all very different—struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy in the face of their mother’s illness.
Adrienne, the outspoken oldest sister; Vanessa, the introverted middle child; and Marie, the adored baby of the family, split their time between San Diego and Tijuana, where their mother receives alternative treatments for leukemia. Vanessa, 16 years old and a talented pianist, narrates the story, chronicling changes both large and small in her sisters as they react to their fractured family life. The sisters’ overworked father is often absent, so when Caleb, a 17-year-old cancer patient in need of treatment, comes to live with the Babcocks, life looks a little brighter.
A rewarding read for teens, this is a smart, compassionate story about living with loss and learning to make the most of each moment.