To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story

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My name is Colette.
This book is about me.

Who am I?
To be perfectly honest,
I’m not exactly sure who I am.

I guess you could say
I’m the fifteen-year-old daughter of an annoyingly famous movie star.

Or maybe
I’m the eighteen-year-old daughter of a famous movie star’s stand-in.

Or maybe
I’m the thousand-year-old daughter of a vampire....

Having trouble guessing which one of these stories is true?
Join the club.

My friends have a joke about me:
How can you tell if Colette is lying?

Her mouth is open.

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Editorial Reviews

"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...Many readers will recognize their own lives as Connor dramatically beats Colette at her own game and teaches her essential life lessons about vulnerability, honesty, and self-discovery."
"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."
"Sones has perfected the art of the verse novel...Sones writes with such an intriguing and effortless style that I flew through 50 pages without even realizing it."
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Colette’s friends have a saying about her: “How can you tell if Colette is lying? Her mouth is open.” The narrator of this novel in verse tells us over and over again that she lies about everything; only sometimes she is not lying. Fifteen-year-old Colette and her seven-year-old brother Will are with their mother, the famous movie star Marissa Shawn, on location in San Luis Obispo. Colette is prepared to be “totally” bored looking after her little brother all summer. Instead, she meets a heartthrob boy on a motorcycle who seems to be more interested in her than in her famous mother. The attraction between Connor and Colette is believable and immediate. Even Will is charmed by him, especially since he does not mind Will’s presence whenever he and Colette are together. Fate seems to dictate that Connor and Colette are never alone together but it does not prevent them from falling for each other. Colette is so used to hiding behind lies that she cannot bring herself to be honest with Connor but Connor is hiding secrets of his own. When Colette discovers how much he has hidden from her and why, she and Will, along with their mother and her boyfriend plan a revenge tactic that ultimately makes Colette realize how damaging lies can be. This novel draws readers in and makes them care about the characters while the economy of language makes it a fast read. Readers of Sones’ previous works will recognize the writing style and readers new to her works will want to go back and read earlier novels. Very highly recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty; Ages 12 up.
VOYA - Amy Cummins
The latest free-verse novel by Sones pulls readers along with its seemingly casual, actually precise, style. Colette, the fifteen-year-old narrator, has her summer plans ruined when her mother, a famous actress, takes the family to San Luis Obispo, California, to film a movie. An unreliable narrator who provides many surprises, Colette hides behind colored contact lenses, piercings, and a habit of fudging the truth because she is "so addicted / to reinventing / reality" (62). Through fast-paced chapters, each a poem one or two pages in length, Sones brilliantly develops Colette's character, as well as her rocky relationship with her mother. Colette's sweet side comes out through her love of her seven-year-old brother, Will, and her kindness when she discovers that her new boyfriend, Connor, has cancer. Colette's tendency to fib is trumped by the mendacity of Connor, who lies about his illness, age, and actual feelings for Colette. Colette believes Connor loves her for herself without knowing her mother's identity. In reality, Connor desires Colette only as a prize and tries to trick her into sexual acts with which she is not comfortable. Colette's mother and her movie costar help Colette enact a revenge scheme in one of many exciting plot developments. The novel is a must-read for fans of Sones's often challenged One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies (Simon & Schuster, 2004/VOYA October 2004), which introduced Colette as Ruby's enigmatic, leather-jacket-wearing classmate in Los Angeles. Colette turns out to be less worldly than she let on. The insights as Colette finds out who she really is make To Be Perfectly Honest standout for teen readers. Reviewer: Amy Cummins
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—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.—Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA
School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 9 Up—Colette is the 15-year-old daughter of an actress and she lies all the time. Her therapist believes she suffers from daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star disorder, but Colette says she lies because it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Of course, she hasn't had any fun with her clothes off, but she is hoping that won't be for long. At the beginning of the summer, her mother takes her away from their Hollywood home to spend the vacation on location in a small town. How boring…until she meets Connor, an older guy who knows nothing about her. She weaves a tale to keep her mother's identity hidden and begins to build a relationship on lies. What she doesn't know is that Connor has his own secrets. Sones's coming-of-age novel in verse (S & S, 2013) is full of humor and witty conversations. Colette is constantly veering off on tangent story lines and then telling listeners that she made it up. Kate Rudd's narration breathes life into all the characters and she perfectly voices the little brother's lisp. While the writing is great, the text becomes confusing when it goes from humorous to serious and back to humorous. A supplemental purchase.—Elizabeth L. Kenyon, Merrillville High School, IN
Kirkus Reviews
Sones returns to the Hollywood setting of her affecting verse novel One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies (2004) for this partially successful study in narrative unreliability. Almost 16, Colette is not looking forward to summer, which she will spend babysitting her 7-year-old brother, Will, in San Luis Obispo, where their actress mother will be on location. In classically narcissistic fashion, their mother instantly hooks up with her co-star, so Colette spends even more time than she expected playing Hungry Hungry Totally Annoying Hippos with Will, who is credulity-stretchingly adorable ("your ath will be grath," he mock-warns her). Things start looking up when gorgeous Connor, a motorcycle-riding local, bumps into Colette and Will at the farmers market. In seemingly no time, Colette and Connor have a hot-and-heavy flirtation going on around the babysitting. Sones again employs the verse form that has served her well in the past, the one- and occasionally two-page poems keeping pages flipping. Colette is "a big fat / liar" who spins fib after fib, only to contradict it at the very beginning of the next poem. It's a technique that works well as the characters and plot are becoming established, but readers may find it wearing as what was a frothy romance turns into a cautionary tale, one that leaves Colette sadder, wiser and less interesting. Readers who find themselves liking the view through Colette's purple-tinted contacts may well be disappointed by their removal. (Verse novel. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480536418
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 4
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sonya Sones has written four novels-in-verse: Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and its companion, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. Her books have been honored with a Christopher Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Poetry Award, and the Claudia Lewis Award for Poetry. But the coolest honor she ever got was when What My Mother Doesn’t Know made it onto the ALA’s list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books, thrice. She lives near the beach in California. You can visit her at

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