This coming-of-age novel in verse features Colette, a spunky, untrustworthy narrator whose schoolmates like to joke, ‘How can you tell/if Colette is lying?/Her mouth/is open.’ Readers will root for the teen as she struggles under the shadow of her beautiful, movie-star mother whose permissive parenting style is equally neglectful. But all is not as it seems, as readers are taken on a roller coaster of truth and lies. By ‘reinventing reality,’ Colette creates her own world because, in her words, ‘my actual life/sucks.’ Cheeky Colette is well matched by her precocious younger brother. The siblings are forced to follow their mother 'on location' to a small town where the week’s main excitement is the farmers’ market. In ‘the armpit/of the universe!’ Colette meets Connor, for whom she feels a passion that she will struggle to rein in, much like her indulgence in lying. Sones captures the ache of first love. Readers may find themselves laughing, crying, and wanting to believe the unreliable, well-developed narrator. Excerpts may make for a stepping stone to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Like Shakespeare’s play, this title lends itself to discussion about healthy relationships, setting limits, defining oneself, and evaluating what is real. Fast paced and great for reluctant readers.
Sones' latest novel in verse is a stealthy tutorial on deception and gullibility. Fifteen-year-old Colette, who first appeared in Sones’ One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies (2004), has a penchant for lying. When she and her adoring little brother, Will, reluctantly join their actress mother on location in small San Luis Obispo, California, she is expecting a boring summer. Enter Connor, who shows up riding alongside Colette’s mother’s limo on his motorcycle. Could Colette’s lost summer be salvaged after all?
Readers will be easily drawn in as Sones convincingly relates story after story before revealing that many events were skillfully fabricated by Colette. The well-crafted verse speeds along fluidly, moving readers nimbly through the courtship and the romance, until, yes, they are fooled again … essential life lessons about vulnerability, honesty, and self-discovery. —Gail Bush
Sonya Sones’ latest young adult novel, To Be Perfectly Honest(A Novel Based on an Untrue Story), serves up an entertaining tale of romance and deception. Sones’ protagonist, 15-year-old Colette, is addicted to lying—not because she’s starved for the attention that’s always turned toward her movie-star mother, but because she genuinely likes doing it. Her friends have an ongoing joke: ‘How can you tell when Colette is lying?’ ‘Her mouth is open.’
When her mother begins working on a new film, Colette and her younger brother, Will, are forced to spend their summer vacation on the California coast instead of in Paris with her three best friends. Although angry and pessimistic at first, Colette soon falls in love with the local bad boy, Connor…
Sones has perfected the art of the verse novel. Although I have never been a huge fan of verse novels, Sones writes with such an intriguing and effortless style that I flew through 50 pages without even realizing it. Initially, I was skeptical whether I would enjoy a novel centered on a completely unreliable narrator, but my skepticism was immediately overridden by my fascination with the alternate realities Colette depicted. —Heather Sieve
Readers familiar with Sones’ previous novels in verse will not be disappointed with this newest endeavor. As in One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies (2004) and What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know (2007), the author presents realistic fiction in prose-style free verse on topics of interest to young adult readers. In this case, the story goes beyond the typical concerns of dating and family dynamics to questions of honesty and infamy. This book features the reappearance of Colette from One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. Fifteen-year old Colette and her brother Will are visiting their mom on the set of a movie for the summer. Readers learn immediately of Colette’s prowess as a liar and this unreliable narrator will keep them guessing throughout this fast-paced novel…The heart of the story surrounds a budding romance between Colette and Connor. As this love affair develops … Colette has to face the depth of her own deceitfulness as she realizes the damage of lies and secrecy that she has both caused and endured. To be Perfectly Honest has the feel of romance with a fair bit of mystery mixed in. —Lesley Colabucci, Millersville University
Readers will relate to the ups and downs of a new romance, the disappointment of unanswered texts and a phone that won’t ring, the elation of stolen kisses, and the angst of deciding how far to go physically … a light-hearted take on disappointed romance for readers with active fantasy lives of their own.