Sunday, March 9, 2014

To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones

To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release: August 27, 2013
Source: ALA
Her friends
have a joke about her:
How can you tell if Colette is lying?

Her mouth is open.

Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she’s got a very bad case of Daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder—so she lies to escape out from under her mother’s massive shadow. But Colette doesn’t see it that way. She says she lies because it’s the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Not that she’s had that much fun with her clothes off. At least not yet, anyway…

When her mother drags her away from Hollywood to spend the entire summer on location in a boring little town in the middle of nowhere, Colette is less than thrilled. But then she meets a sexy biker named Connor. He’s older, gorgeous, funny, and totally into her. So what if she lies to him about her age, and about who her mother is? I mean, she has to keep her mother’s identity a secret from him. If he finds out who she really is, he’ll forget all about Colette, and start panting and drooling and asking her for her mother’s autograph. Just like everyone always does.

But what Colette doesn’t know is that Connor is keeping a secret of his own…
How can you tell if Colette is lying?

Well, it is pretty obvious.

After reading this book's synopsis, I was looking forward to a psychological story with a misleading atmosphere. I wanted to be kept guessing, searching for honesty, not knowing what to believe. But this is not what To Be Perfectly Honest delivers.

Colette's story reads just like any other, aside from a few untrue tangents jutting out from the plot and concluding with a confession of the fib and a return to the main storyline. Pointing out where the truth stops and the lies begin is a task so painfully easy that readers will be slightly offended when the narrator asks them whether or not they believed her little story because no, they did not. Her lies are flimsy, her tales transparent, and her narration does not touch the unreliability I craved.

Even more annoyingly, all her biggest untruths relate exclusively to her romance with Connor, which grows tiresome and hinders the reader's ability to see any aspect of her life other than the romantic one. This lack of variety when it comes to Colette's lies gives her a single-minded quality that does not evolve for many chapters. She drops everything for the boy she loves, complaining about how nothing can be fun without him and canceling any plans that conflict with meeting him. Seemingly unable to focus her energy on more than one thing at a time, she crushes the idea that To Be Perfectly Honest will be a book full of disorienting distrust, and it instead becomes a regular romance with a plain protagonist.

For the first half of the book, I could only think about the aforementioned annoyances, and I poked at every one, ready to write a critical review about everything that bothered me. However, about halfway through the book, something shifts.

As soon as Connor's secret mentioned in the summary comes into play, everything begins to look up. He is hiding mysteries of his own, but they are not what they initially seem. They charge the subsequent events with emotion, even making the somewhat unrealistic ending seem acceptable to readers who are cheering passionately for their protagonist. They aid Colette's development, and although she never becomes a vastly detailed character, at least her simplicity is focused not on a destructive relationship, but on a positive goal sparked by the fire that burns her.

Going into more detail on this would give away more than I should share, but readers who are struggling to get through the first half of To Be Perfectly Honest should know that things do improve. The conclusion is a little too good to be true and it does not nearly negate all the annoyances, but it is sweet, funny, and empowering, leaving readers with a smiling final impression. This book begins as a pain to push through, but the creative conclusion fades the glaring negatives, leaving them partially forgotten and making To Be Perfectly Honest a solidly okay story.

4 comments:

  1. It was such a nice surprise to see your review because I've just started this book and I wasn't too sure about the story. It seemed a bit random and I didn't really get the whole idea of it. At first, I was fooled by the lies but then it was pretty easy to tell like you mentioned. I don't think I still quite get the point of this book even after reading your review but the sweet, funny and empowering part definitely makes me think that pushing on would be worth it! Great review, Emily! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Okay...you have me wanting to read this now even though I'm still very nervous. It sounded interesting and then I read about your annoyances and I was ALREADY rolling my eyes and groaning. Especially, this: "She drops everything for the boy she loves, complaining about how nothing can be fun without him and canceling any plans that conflict with meeting him." WHAT? NO NO NO NO. One of my biggest pet peeves. And how the lies are so transparent it makes you feel like the author is patronizing you. HOWEVER, I'm really intrigued to Connor's secret that shifts the whole story. I want to read this 2nd half so I can see how it gets better :) Ah, you have me conflicted, Emily!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Okay, so... I'm conflicted. Do you think it's worth it to suffer through the beginning of the book? I don't know how I would react to an annoying lead character, especially if the whole lying scheme is easy to decipher. I'm curious about Conner's secret though, but I fear the overshadowing weight of the romance is tipping the balance too much for me. Thanks for sharing Emily :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hmmm...sounds interesting. I want to know Connor's secret. I hope it isn't too bad of a secret..... Thanks for visiting my blog <3

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love to hear your thoughts, and I read every one. You just became one of my favorite people, so I will try to visit your blog in return.