TELL ME SOMETHING REAL
by Calla Devlin
Published: August 30th 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository
Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.
There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.
Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…
This book so didn't go how I thought it would, which is great because it was EVEN BETTER than I thought it would be!
Tell Me Something Real is told in first person by Vanessa, who is unofficially tasked with keeping her family together at far too young an age. Surrounding Vanessa are older sister, Adrienne, who is partially checked out, much younger sister, Marie, who has an obsession with the virgin saints and disturbs her teachers, their father, who works long hours to take care of his family, and their mother, who is terminally ill with leukemia. The setting is the 1980s and the girls take frequent trips to Mexico with their mother so she can obtain FDA-not approved treatments of Laetrile.
Side note: Laetrile treatments were the cause of Steve McQueen's death. Basically he poisoned himself to death because what you actually ingest is cyanide.On one visit, the family meets Caleb and Barb, who are there because Caleb is in remission but that's not enough for Barb. The Babcocks offer their house to the family so Caleb can be close to the treatment center. Caleb and Vanessa bond over their loss, Caleb with his loss of time due to illness and Vanessa with her loss of self considering her complicated family dynamics.
Her death will destroy us, but it will also free us of small burdens.
I can't say much beyond that because I don't want to give away what happens. It's surely a shock and a far different situation than I expected. From the halfway point, I was hooked.
I really enjoyed how the book was split into three parts: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Prognosis. They're telling of the family's journey. I enjoyed how strong each of the sisters was, but also their father. He became central to their journey. Calla's writing is strong, and her story is even stronger.
I'm excited to catch Calla out on tour this fall because I have so many questions for her!
ABOUT CALLA DEVLIN:
Calla Devlin is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award whose stories have been included in numerous literary journals and in anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine. Tell Me Something Real is her first book. LINKS: Website | Twitter
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8/24: Rebelle Reads - Top 108/25: The Litaku - ReviewWeek 2:8/29: Arctic Books - Review8/31: The Book Return - Review9/2: Tales of the Ravenous Reader - Review <--Last stop, that's us!