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Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies)
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Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  980 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Half Asian and half white, Patty Ho has never felt completely home in her skin. When a Chinese fortuneteller foresees a white guy on Patty's horizon, things go from bad to worse in this novel by acclaimed author Justina Chen.
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published April 5th 2006)
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Mar 29, 2008 Cyndy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone looking for a light read and interesting in bi-racial issues
Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) tells the story of Patty Ho, half white, half Taiwanese, and fully confused. As a girl of half Asian and half white ethnicity, I felt an definite connection between myself and Patty. What Justina Chen Headley does so well is to really capture the in between that I'm sure all biracial teens feel and put those feelings into words. Also, I admire that she didn't make Patty's story merely about finding her identity in terms of race but also in terms of he...more
Aug 19, 2007 Helen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children of immigrants, people who like an unusual/innovative read
I was avoiding this book because the protagonist has a Taiwanese mother and there's Taiwanese in the book -- it just hit a little TOO close to home in some ways.

After I got over my Asian-mother baggage, I discovered this is really one of the most creative young adult books I've read in a long time. It wasn't just the self-discovery and coming to terms with the parental culture clash. I read about stuff I've never even heard of before. Definitely a stand-out piece that I'll remember.

I found the p...more
This is probably one of the only books where I am actually so happy that the girl breaks up with the semi-cool half male-protagonist (SPOILER START) until the end (SPOILER END) but not really.

God, I frickin' hate Stu.
I never even liked him, really.


So this is by the author of North of Beautiful and it's basically abo...more
Angel Serpentine
A good book, but to be honest, it was a bit stereotypical. Yes, I know that some Asian families are actually like that, but many are completely normal. (If there really is a "normal".) Where it goes somewhat overboard, however, the book actually is unbelievably true. Nothing But the Truth was written well, and the geometry references made for a nice touch; the author has an appealing writing style. I do feel as though the ending was a bit too real, with no fairy-tale endings, but in a way, it ad...more
Will write more later, but books about second gen Hapa girls navigating their identity give me all the feelings.
A Canadian Girl
A couple of weeks ago when I was browsing through the shelves of my local library, I came upon Justina Chen Headley’s novels Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) and Girl Overboard. Since I’d read North of Beautiful about a year ago and had liked it, I decided to check out both books. Though I haven’t read Girl Overboard yet, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) was a great book and I think it’s even better than North of Beautiful.

As someone who is bi-racial, Headley’s Nothing bu...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Martinelli
Wow, this was a fast read. A good one, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to be done that quickly. (And I’m normally a quick reader to begin with.)

I did have fun reading this, and it’s a very light read compared to Girl Overboard. Patty’s self-identity crisis is far different from Syrah’s, and I like that this really touches more on cultural identity. Patty’s not only described as being physically awkward, but also emotionally awkward. It makes her feel a little more grounded. I liked that she has...more
Ms. B
When a fortune-telling granny sees a white guy in Patty’s future, her overbearing Taiwanese mama has a few ideas for reversing the prediction: Patty will eat stinky tonic soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Patty will attend math camp this summer. Patty will meet a Nice (Taiwanese) Boy.

Never mind that Patty is half white herself. But Mama considers marrying Patty’s dad the one mistake she ever made, and she’ll do anything to keep her daughter from repeating it. So as Patty’s white girlfriends...more
I always think it is interesting how themes seem to repeat over and over in books that I read close together even if I have selected them completely at random.

I read this book following Sprout by Daniel Peck. Although it wasn't "blow me out of the water" good like Sprout, this book's continuation of the theme of finding out the truth about oneself, and the use of essay in both plots to further that theme, seemed almost more than coincidence, and greatly increased my enjoyment of this novel.

Initially the voice of Patty Ho, half Asian, half white and feeling out-of-place everywhere, was witty and enjoyably snarky. I loved her riffs on her Taiwanese mother's lectures and the parental boasting at her mother's Potluck dinners. Her feelings of being second-best to her Harvard-accepted older brother were easy to get too.

Once she goes off to Stanford math camp though, the book began to get more disappointing. The wise-cracks which read so easily in the beginning began to seem forced and...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

If Patricia "Patty" Yi-Phen Ho had just one wish, she knows exactly what it would be. To be white. Full-out, red-white-and-blue, all-American, totally Caucasian white. Not the half-and-half mixture that she is now, with an overbearing Taiwanese mother and a long-gone Caucasian father. Not an Amazon-tall mishmash of ancestries that leave her looking like an overgrown Asian teenager or a really tanned white one. Just plain old, blend-into-the-crowd white.

When he...more
The main character in this novel was Patty Ho, a half Caucasian, half Taiwanese fifteen year old girl. I could relate to her, being bi-racial myself, and understand how she felt confused and out of place. Patty isn't comfortable in her own skin, because she doesn't fit in with the Asians and she sticks out like a sore thumb in her mostly white populated high school. Her mother is strict, favoring her older brother, Abe, who is headed for Harvard University. Her friends don't understand the weird...more
Steph Su
Half-white, half-Asian Patty Ho has never felt complete. Her white friends always joke about her crazy Taiwanese mother's ways, and Patty shuns the company of the goodie-goodie Anne Wong, the only other Asian girl at her school. But worst of all in Patty's life is her mother, who's a five-foot-tall, traditional, wary, embarrassing Mom-inator, complete with foreign accent. Mom's worst regret is her marriage with the father of Patty and her older brother Abe (oh, did we mention that beloved Abe is...more
Sep 25, 2007 nina rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hapas, 2nd gen asians
This is a coming of age book of a girl who never felt like she belonged due to her mixed race heritage. The book begins and ends with the main character, Patty, writing a 'Truth Essay' for her English teacher and exploring, through summer math camp, new friends, and geometric proofs, who she is.

I am still debating whether the book was doing more harm than good by proliferating certain stereotypes (broken English, math skills, Asian/hapa exoticism)...

The overall theme, which is that no one fits...more
Emma (Miss Print)
I had the chance to talk to Justina Chen Headley briefly before she gave a reading from Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies). She was very cool, grounded and an absolute pleasure to talk to. So, it should be no surprise that her narrator, Patty Ho, is equally enjoyable in every way in Headley's first novel written for young adults.

Half-Taiwanese and half-white, Patty feels like she doesn't belong anywhere. This fact is confirmed when, instead of going to the last school dance of the year...more
Kimberly Hirsh
Apr 06, 2007 Kimberly Hirsh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens
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 transfor...more
Most of the time, when authors write books about Asian teens, I love the brutal honesty and the way I can relate to the book with my own experiences (though I do wish someone would write a book about an Asian person who deals with problems everyone else deals with too.) I expected this book to be the same.

The first thing that surprised me was the fact that Patty was half white. Her father had left when she was so young she can't even remember, and she was raised by her strict Taiwanese mother.

Jennifer, one of my colleagues, and I were discussing teen lit and how much she likes reading it because she finds it fun and refreshing. I agree, but I haven't read much of it lately. I picked up this book at ALA Midwinter in Seattle last year. The main character, Patty, is a half-Chinese, half-white 15-year old and she lives in Seattle. Her father is out of the picture, and her mother is a tough-as-nails Chinese woman who Patty thinks is constantly disappointed in her. Patty's mother basically...more
Half-white, half-Asian Patty Ho is sick and tired of being out of place; she doesn't fit in with either side of her heritage, at school or at home. She's horrified when she finds out her mom signed her up for math camp at Stanford, but when she gets there, it seems like she's finally found somewhere she can learn to be herself.

I really liked the direct, honest way Headley tackles racial issues, and her exploration of Patty's various relationships (particularly with her mother and her aunt Lu)....more
The book “Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies),” is about a mother and daughter that could not get along. There are many things that were interesting in this book. One, Patty the daughter was not really comfortable with her looks. Two, the bellybutton grandmother tells her what her mother does not want to hear. And three, her mother sends her away to math camp.
What I liked about this book was how dramatic and emotional it was. There were definitely bumps on the road and ups and downs. I...more
Crystal W
This book is a book that talks about a girl that is half Taiwanese and half white. She doesn't know what to think of herself. When her English teacher tells her to write the truth, she doesn't know what to write. The story shows how she unfolds the truth, slowly. She finally figures out why her mother doesn't want her to marry a white man. She also gets the courage to stand up for herself. Her friends help her through the summer and stay loyal to her. They also give her the courage she needed.

Patty struggles as she tries to live her life as a normal American teen while dealing with the fact that she is half Asian and half Caucasian, her mother is really strict on the issue of boys, and she's being sent to a math camp for the summer. I really enjoyed this, despite some misgivings about how Chen Headley waxes lyrical about the beauty and intelligence of mixed-race children. But I recognised and laughed at and agreed with Patty's thoughts and frustrations about her Asian mother, and the...more
I love this book....aside from being an easy read, it was really discusses the issues of being born into a family of different nationalities...more than that, it showed us the sacrifices that mothers do for their kids...sometimes we think parents do not understand how we feel, but in truth, we ourselves do not understand the story behind the actions of our parents...we think that they are just there to make our lives difficult....but indeed there's a deeper picture that we haven...more
Being an Asian, this book gives me some insights about how a half asian-american girl life in USA. The story was good but not to say VERY good. So 4 stars :)
As a high school student, Patty doesn’t seems comfortable because she doesn’t fit into the two cultures she belong to, “She wish to be white“ (Chen Headley 5). However, when she arrives at Stanford University, she starts to see her situation a bit differently. Her self esteem, her emotions starts to be confident on both herself and her family. Her relationship with her family is much more stronger compare to the beginning because she interacts with her grandmother. I like the author’s style in t...more
This was a cute growing-up story about a girl who is half-Asian, half-white, living in a small town where nobody looks like her. The voice of the main character was very clear and authentic - I could hear myself at 15. Like any good YA book, the protagonist learned a few things, including how to be comfortable as herself rather than trying to fit in and why her overbearing mother is so protective of her. I was glad to see that the hero was written with a nod to the appropriate maturity level; sh...more
I really wanted to like this book, but it was not to be. I think this book’s strong point is its ability to demonstrate character growth and transformation. However, I had to push myself to finish the story because of the lack of action. Thus the delicate balance of action and characterization was tipped.

Also, because of the action slump I found myself not caring to find out what happens to Patty; her life situation did not seem compelling. Last, some of Patty’s thoughts want to come across as...more
ages 11+ Fifteen year old Patty Ho is forever under her Asian mother's thumb. Of course, it doesn't help matters that even though she's a hapo - half Taiwanese, half white - she's still picked on by Steve Kosanko. At first she thinks four weeks at Stanford's math camp will be totally lame. But between her risk-taking roommate Jasmine and new love interest Stu, math camp is shaping up to be a lot of fun. When trouble arises, she reconnects with old family and learns more about the father that lef...more
I loved this book. I've read it at least three times. It's funny, insightful, and offers a much different perspective than other books out there.
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Justina Chen is an award-winning novelist for young adults whose most recent book, A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS, is a Booklist Top 10 Romances for Youth. North of Beautiful was named to the Best Books of 2009 lists by Kirkus Reviews and Barnes & Noble. Her other novels include Return to Me, Girl Overboard (a Junior Library Guild premiere selections) and Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), w...more
More about Justina Chen...
North of Beautiful Girl Overboard Return to Me A Blind Spot for Boys The Patch

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“Its as if God cruised through one of those Chinese fast-food buffets and bought Abe the full meal dealso he can pass for Mama's beloved son. When it came to my turn, all that was left was one of those soggy egg rollsthat doesn't qualify as real Chinese food.” 5 likes
“By the time I slip back to my room, it's almost six. Jasmine is in bed, awake and waiting for me..."Where were you?"
Where was I? Chased by a fat guard, hit by a laugh attack and nearly thrown out of Stanford University Math Camp, never to see the light of the campus ever again, and certainly not as a future student.”
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