A quick rundown of my life at the moment: I teach full-time and I’m in a play. I’m only in my second year of full-time teaching. My house is a mess! I have so many papers to grade, and I’ve been sick on and off a lot recently.

So today was going to be catch-up day: I was going to clean the house, grade papers, and of course schedule in a little relaxation.

I didn’t wake up until 10:30 am, and all I’ve done so far is lounge in my pajamas, play on the internet, eat cookies, and read Justina Chen Headley’s Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies).

I fear I’m not a very good book reviewer, because I can’t find words besides “This book is good! Read it!” I think what happens in this book, and indeed in most good books about young girls, is a transformation and a self-acceptance. In Nothing But the Truth it happens over a summer; for some people it takes longer. I’m trying now to figure out when it happened for me. At this point in time, I like myself a lot. Not in the sense that I think I’m vastly superior to others, but in the sense that I’m never worried about trying to fit in. So books like this one make me think “How does that process happen?” Of course it’s different for every girl. (I’m sure it happens to boys, too, but I never was a boy.)

As a high school teacher, I see a lot of girls who aren’t satisfied with themselves. I see others who are. I wish sometimes I could follow some of them, and see how they change when they are adults. I think that has to be one of the most wonderful things you can do - watch a person grow up. I liked watching Patty grow up. I liked watching her grow from awkward to self-possessed. I liked watching her ideas about others change as her ideas about herself did.

A great strength of Nothing But the Truth is the interaction of its female characters. Patty, our protagonist, is at the heart of the story, but we see how the other girls and women in her life help her grow and change. When we discover why Patty’s mother is the way she is, for us as much as for Patty, life takes on new levels. When Jasmine pushes Patty outside her comfort zone, we wonder what exciting opportunities may lie outside our own. And what is most reassuring is that after this transformative summer, Patty hasn’t had to give up any of her former self; she’s only added new dimensions.

In Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), we see how a girl can grow and change and find out who she is, without losing a sense of who she was. We can be in the present, look to the future, and remember the past. And I think Patty’s most important discovery, and mine too in reading this book, is that the events that shape us do just that - they shape who we are and what we become. But they don’t determine it. That’s up to us.

Book: Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) (Affiliate Link) Author: Justina Chen Headley Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers Original Publication Date: April 5, 2006 Pages: 256 Age Range: Young Adult Source of Book: Public Library Other Blog Reviews: Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Bildungsroman