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

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

4.1 7
by Sonya Sones

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Can honesty lead to heartbreak if the truth is subjective? A compelling novel in verse from Sonya Sones.

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


Can honesty lead to heartbreak if the truth is subjective? A compelling novel in verse from Sonya Sones.

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…

Editorial Reviews

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
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.
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)
"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."
"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."
"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."
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

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.42(h) x 1.52(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

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 SonyaSones.com.

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To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars! When I first requested this book for review, I had no idea that it was written in verse. I’d never read a book written in verse, nor did I even know what it was. I’m still not exactly sure. And maybe that’s because this book reads almost exactly like a normal book. I probably wouldn’t have even known it was written in verse if I hadn’t seen reviews mentioning it. I would have just assumed the ebook formatting was off, which happens often with eARCs, and I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it. This story was quick and straight to the point. I really like that in a book. I flew right through To Be Perfectly Honest, never once feeling a lull or boring spot. It was a quick read that definitely had me thinking. Some good thoughts, some bad. Let me start at the beginning. The extent of lying in this book, especially in the very beginning, really started to get on my nerves. I know that’s the point of the story, which later all made sense to me, but in the beginning I was constantly frustrated that she would stop mid-sentence and tell us it was all a lie, and it didn’t happen that way. At one point I wanted to smack the girl. Buuuuuut, I got over it.  ;) Something that really rubbed me the wrong way the entire story was the fact that Colette was only 15 years old. My niece is 16, and if she EVER did half of the stuff Colette did, I would have a hissy fit (to put it nicely). Maybe I’m aging myself now. Maybe this is totally normal behavior for a 15-year-old girl nowadays. But when I was 15, it wasn’t like that. I did enjoy the characters, especially Colette’s little wise-beyond-his-years brother, Will. His little lisp definitely added to his charm. Colette’s movie star mother, Marissa Shawn, was fun too… though again, I felt much too lenient with her children. Leaving her little 7-year-old son home alone. Letting her 15-year-old daughter spend extended periods of time (including overnights) with her boyfriend. I was more angry throughout this story than anything. And again, maybe I was raised extremely sheltered, or maybe this is how children are raised in showbiz, I don’t know, but it was definitely wayyyyyy out of my normal comfort zone. This entire story of a summer romance spans only a few months. A lot of information in as few words as possible… Wonderful. And honestly I’m not so scared of verse books now! ;) If you’re looking for a creative story written in verse, teaching a great lesson that sometimes the truth hurts, but the lies hurt more, than I would suggest this story for you. It’s definitely unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read.
onlyminordetails More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts: I really adore Sonya Sones and her books in verse. Every one that I've picked up, I have loved and own all of them. When I heard there was FINALLY going to be a new one by her, I was so stoked! You have no idea. So when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I snatched it even though I already had way too many books to read. I wanted to read this one that bad. At first I was kinda like, "Eh? Okay..." But then when she met and started seeing more of Connor everything changed for me. I started feeling very swoony. I felt more invested in Colette and her situation and wanted her to reach a point of clarity. The seriousness of the lies made it feel like more than just a nice little story. When everything came down in the end, it wasn't what I was expecting but I was very satisfied with the moral learned. To Be Perfectly Honest had its cute moments and funny moments. Sonya Sones had me hooked and reeled me in. The story appeared to be light and very YA on the surface but had a lot more to it in the end. I would definitely recommend this one for anyone who wants an honest and realistic YA novel. My Rating: Very Good
miztrebor More than 1 year ago
I’ve become a fan of Sonya Sones writing in the last year or so after reading What My Mother Doesn’t Know and following it up with What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. I’ve read most of Sones’ work, and like the rest of her books, To Be Perfectly Honest takes some time to draw you in, then hits you unexpectedly with something to make it great. The narrator of this book, Colette, is a minor character in Sones’ other work One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. We don’t see too much of her in that book, so it was great to see her here with a bigger role. She’s an interesting narrator too; she’s a career liar. With lying being her nature, she’s an unreliable narrator. Lying also plays a big part in the conflict throughout the book. It took me a little bit to warm up to Colette, to be honest, but her personality kept working on me. What really won me over was the big reveal in this book. At first this was a nice, light teen romance, but at one point it takes on a heavier, more serious tone. It packed a punch, and I like seeing that in a book. It didn’t feel out of place, just unexpected. Sones’ free verse has all the strength that I’ve come to love in her previous books, and I know I’ll see in the future. I know I’ll be reading whatever Sones has in store for readers in her next book.
Andrea17 More than 1 year ago
I have a thing about unreliable narrators: I cannot get enough of them. And Colette is easily one of my favorites. Why? Because she's unreliable about being unreliable! She knows she's a big fat liar and then admits to her lies - or admits to the big ones anyway. You never know if she sneaks in a tiny lie and doesn't tell you about it because she admitted to all these other lies she told. So if she admits to the lies, what makes us think she would lie and not tell us about them. She's crafty. Maybe she admits to the big lies so she can sneak in little ones and we would be none the wiser. FIND AND INSERT HER COMMENTS ABOUT PARADOXES I'm sorry. Did your head just explode? Instead of spending the summer in Paris with friends as planned, her mother, a famous movie star, takes both her and her brother to TOWN while she shoots her new movie. Facing a summer of boredom and babysitting Will, they soon meet Connor (a motorcycle-riding tiger-stripped-hair hunk of man meat) who might just make the summer bearable. Honestly (ha!), I love Colette. I mean, I wouldn't want be her friend, but as a character I love her to pieces. She adores her younger brother, who has the cutest lisp ever and is far too observant for his young age, but also has that naivete about her that comes with adolescence and young love. She lies for the sake of lying, is proud of the lies she tells, and it doesn't seem to phase her when she does it. However, while perhaps not on such a grand scale, who among us hasn't lied about trivial things when we were teenagers? Sonya did an amazing job with the verse poetry. Each poem flows into the other perfectly and you don't notice that you're reading verse. Even the formatting and stanzas contribute to the feel of the story. The way your eyes dance across each word and each line enhances both the plot and your reading experience. An engaging story, To Be Perfectly Honest grabs hold of you from the beginning and continues to suck you into Colette's lies with every page. The unreliable narration is the magnetism that makes this story what it is, that makes you wonder where exactly the lies began.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Add e please
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not good i want it for nooks