My friend and writing partner, who conveniently (for me!) works at Simon & Schuster slid an ARC copy of Tell Me Something Real, by Calla Devlin, when I was working on this list of 100 books featuring sister relationships. Reading has been slow for me this month as I’ve been catching every flu & cold friend I come into contact with. But when I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. The specificity of detail completely sucked me into the world of the Babcock sisters in 1976 San Diego. Adrienne, the oldest, is the most beautiful and outrageous. Marie is the baby and obsessed with Catholic Saints (even though they aren’t Catholic). And the middle sister, and narrator, Vanessa is a piano prodigy who is trying to keep the family together as their mother battles Leukemia. Throughout the summer, the girls often travel to Mexico where their mother receives an unapproved, experimental treatment. Its a summer of making future plans, falling in love, and preparing for an unimaginable loss.
I knew I’d like this book because of the sister relationships, but the lyrical writing and tightly-controlled plot twists ended up being my favorite. Vanessa also has a romantic plot line that made me worry and swoon in equal measure. I really cared about her and her sisters. It made every hardship and surprise in the story more emotional for me: mostly, in a good way. Seriously though, you might want a box of tissues by your bed and a carton of ice cream in the freezer.
I’m really into the trend of YA historical fiction being set in a more recent past.The setting and time period came alive, along with the world of the family. Definitely recommend (in case you can’t tell!).