C.G. Drews's Reviews > Tell Me Something Real

Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2016, young-adult

So this book totally surprised me. In a really really good way! I went in expecting a contemporary about (A) a pianist, (B) epic sisterly bonds, and (C) a parent dying of cancer. So yes, it was all those things + fantastic plot twists that had me reeling! It was so good. aLL THE GOOD.

My favourite thing about this is: SISTERRRRS. I love books about sisters. I have 4 of them and they're all annoying so I like to read about epic fictional sister who spontaneously go out for ice cream. (No one spontaneously took me out for ice cream in my youth. #damagedchildhood) We have Adrienne who is like a swearing-firecracker and I LOVED HER. And then, the narrator is Vanessa who's the pianist and the soft/kind one. This, unfortunately, gives her the tendency to be quite bland too because she's always pegged as the "good" one. But I still liked her! I really felt for the pain she went through with her mum's illness. Then there's the 9yo little sister, Marie who is obsessed with Catholic saints. She was pretty cute. The sibling dynamics kind of reminded me of The Rest of Us Just Live Here. ANYWAY. They fought! They disagreed! They weren't perfect! <-- and that's exactly what made them perfect


Also, it's historical fiction. It's set in 1976. And it has SUCH a summery vibe. The writing is almost kind of slow, in a way, but detailed in all the right places. It's so vivid I actually felt the weather and the city and AHHH. The writing is just glorious. I'm totally sucked in.

Piano? We gotcha piano. Although, like, music IS a big deal, but it's not the focus. Which was fine because often I find books about music can be hard if the music isn't described really well. Like, where is my bonus playlist to go along with this while I read??? WHERE IS THE MOVIE SO I MAY HEAR WHILE I SEE?? Ahem. (Also it's all Classical Piano, so WIN WIN.)

I think the romance was probably the weakest part, but still SO CUTE. Okay. That sounds contradictory (pfft, do not accuse me of mortal weakness, fiend) but lemme explain. The romance was (A) very fast, like they were kissing pretty soon after meeting, but yet (B) they were sooo cute together that I DIDN'T EVEN MIND. Vanessa meets Caleb at the cancer clinic where her mum is getting treated. Caleb is in remission from cancer so he's like a walking corpse. But he's sweet! And stubborn! And he wants life to be real. (HELLO I SEE THE TITLE.) I just totally shipped them. But the story definitely doesn't centre around the romance. So if you're after a less-romantic-y book? DING DING. THIS IS YOUR STOP. COME READ THIS ONE.

Ah, so, ehem, there is something to note though: it does deal a bit with mental illness as well as physical illness...and it does not treat them equally. So I get it: this is the 1970s. I mean, even now in 2016 people will acknowledge a broken leg but they won't make allowances for, say, depression. So mental illness has a lot of stigmas. SO I'M NOT SAYING THIS IS A NEGATIVE. I'm just saying it's there. Plus it was so sad when (view spoiler) That is so sad.

Small Random Negatives:
• sometimes I felt the writing skipped over the emotion...
• or perhaps I am a heinous vulcan
• like I said, romance = rushy rush
• it reminded me of my childhood where no one spontaneously gave me ice cream

Honestly: get thee out there and read this book. IT IS MARVELLOUS. I'm still reeling at the plot twists which were so well established and SO well executed! I love sisterly books, and musical books, so this combined like TWO awesome things and did it so well. The summer vibe was lazily delicious. Perfect for me huddling under 62 quilts and cursing winter. AND I LOVED THE CHARACTERS. They were all complex and relatable and mildly adorable and tragic. This is totally not your average cancer story and it has given me like 4 emotions.

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Reading Progress

April 21, 2015 – Shelved
April 21, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
August 26, 2016 – Started Reading
August 26, 2016 –
61.0% "Wooooah, this is not your average cancer novel. SO MANY PLOT TWISTS."
August 27, 2016 – Shelved as: contemporary
August 27, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
August 27, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
August 27, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

ultra-great review, cait!

poor cait she had no spontaneous ice cream like EVERYBODY else…oh wait…isn't that normal? XD

Andrea Ohhhhh, sounds most excellent. Great review Cait.

message 3: by Felice (new)

Felice Laverne Awesome review! It's great when you can tell someone REALLY liked a book; makes you want to run out and get it! :)

C.G. Drews @Navidad: YAYYYYY. I'm glad I was convincing! :D

message 5: by Ellie (new)

Ellie R Just to clarify: remission is the period after you've been found to be cancer free. There are no more cancer cells in your body. You might still go through preventative treatment to start the cancer from redeveloping, but you are no longer in immediate (or hopefully any) danger.

C.G. Drews @Ellie: Not really sure why you're mentioning that? I know! :) My review didn't say otherwise??

message 7: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Ooh, this sounds so good! We definitely need more sister stories out there!

C.G. Drews @Natalie: For sure!! It's so amazing and completely underrated!

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