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Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,266 ratings  ·  123 reviews
A half Asian and half white teen navigates a summer of woe and love in this utterly relatable novel that Meg Cabot calls "A funny, touching read that will leave you craving more." Half Asian and half white, Patty Ho has never felt completely home in her skin. Things get worse when a Chinese fortune-teller channels Patty's future via her belly button...and divines a white ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published April 5th 2006)
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,266 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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Aug 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, slow-beginning
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.

Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The story started with half america half chinese - hapa. How Math camp at Stanford changed her or how she changed herself, with friends (Jas and Anne) and accepting who she was. It was a nice book about self discovery.

Quoted from the book: The truth is, labels are nothing but what we attach to ourselves and to other people, just like labels that are glued onto spaghetti sauce jars or something. Take off the label and there's a mystery inside.'

In the book, there was a job where people get paid t
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Will write more later, but books about second gen Hapa girls navigating their identity give me all the feelings.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me tell you. This book have been sitting on my shelf for years. I finally finished it—in one day—and I wish I would have read it sooner.

This book is such an important young adult book. It discusses race, family relationships and identity. It's originally and brilliantly written.

Patty's voice shines throughout the whole novel, not just in the creative, witty way that she speaks, but in her personality and the confusion that comes with discovering who exactly she is.

I think this novel is bril
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a fast, easy read about a teenage girl, Patty Ho, raised by a single Taiwanese mother. After a 'belly button reader' reveals a relationship with a white man in her future, Patty's mother sends her to math camp for the summer. While at camp Patty has many revelations about herself and her family. It is a coming of age story with humor strung throughout to keep it a light easy read!
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I’m subtracting two stars for repeated fatphobia. I’ll give this author another try because this book was written awhile ago, so hopefully she’ll have grown since then.
S Sisk
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
a good story, and I learned interesting things about being chinese-american. Also nice personal growth, which is what adolescent novels are famous for.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me smile like an idiot and laugh out loud. I thought it was gonna be another cheesy YA read - and it was - but I still enjoyed it.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma (Miss Print)
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Jul 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen
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.

Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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
Ms. B
Feb 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural, ya
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
Steph Su
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poc
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 24, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Apr 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
A Canadian Girl
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
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
This book is the is just wonderful! I have to say that the writing just pulls you in from the first page. And every time I picked it up, even if I just read 2 pages it sucks me right back into it! I started reading it on the bus on my way to work in the morning. This is normally not the best place for me to start new books, but it grabbed me right from the start.

As I said the writing is excellent. It's colorful, funny and more importantly true. Everything here excels. It does everything a book s
Oct 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
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
Mar 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: math campers; lazy smart kids
I picked up this book because it was $3 at Big Lots and the protagonist, Patty, is a high school student who goes, somewhat reluctantly, to summer math camp, where she finds her social awkwardness melting away. The prose is a little too clever and punny for my taste, and the narrator's Mama is depicted as a little too dragon lady. But while those aspects require some suspension of disbelief, I do have to credit Headley with some nice touches that resonated with me and showed that she did her hom ...more
Crystal W
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

Nov 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
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
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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).
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Justina Chen is an award-winning writer. Her latest book, THE ART OF INSPIRATION: LEAD YOUR BEST STORY, is for any leader who wants to inspire employees, customers, and constituents. Her YA novel, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, was named to Best Books lists by Kirkus Reviews and Barnes & Noble. Her other novels include A Blind Spot for Boys, Return to Me, Girl Overboard (a Junior Library Guild premiere s ...more
“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.” 6 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.”
More quotes…