If I’m Being Honest

img_20190502_120545img_20190502_120902Living in Los Angeles with her unmarried has-been actress mom, senior Cameron Bright attends the most elite private high school on the West Coast, Beaumont Prep, courtesy of her wealthy, successful businessman dad, who heads his own company in New York.  His involvement with her extends only so far as paying her rent and tuition; she sees him rarely, and phone conversations with him are always brief and impersonal. Nevertheless, Cameron’s whole life plan revolves around making him acknowledge her as someone of worth.

To that end, she devotes her time and energy to studying in pursuit of scholarships and a summer internship with her dad’s company, running track to burnish her high school activities record, and finishing and submitting  her college application essay to her dad’s alma mater, Wharton School of Business @ UPENN.  When she allows herself down time, she designs websites and spends time with her two besties, Morgan, a promising actress who already has an agent, and Elle, a YouTube makeup artist with millions of subscribers. Like Morgan and Elle, Cameron is beautiful, popular and generally someone to be feared on campus.  Brutally honest, she can destroy someone’s social ranking with a caustic remark, and she doesn’t hesitate to use others to advance her own ambitions. She is generally known as and called a bitch by just about everyone on campus.

Heading into senior year, Cameron’s attention refocuses on Andrew, a good family friend until high school separated them into different status groups. Now established as one of the school’s premier soccer stars, he becomes the target of Cameron’s romantic efforts. Unfortunately for Cameron, Andrew has witnessed her cruelty and wants nothing to do with her. What to do? While studying Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in English class, Cameron decides she needs to “tame” herself by reining in her honesty and criticism of others.  To show Andrew she has reformed and is a different person, she sets about apologizing to everyone she has wronged in the past. It’s a rocky process with unintended revelations about herself and others.

Characters are likable and relatable. Readers will appreciate the difficulty and complexity of Cameron’s dawning self-awareness as well as that of others, including her mom.  The usual challenges of high school and family life are presented realistically but with a positive resolution that makes you glad you read the book. Flagged contents include some sexual situations (not graphic), teenage drinking, and language (shit, hell, dick, asshole, fuckin’, damn).

Categories: Art, Books We Recommend, Bullying, Depression, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, Fashion, Mental Health, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Social Media, Theatre & Film

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