If I'm Being Honest

WIBBERLEY, Emily & . 384p. Viking. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451481092.
Gr 7 Up—All her classmates at her private high school in Los Angeles think queen bee Cameron Bright can be described in one phrase: driven, brutally honest bitch. Pretty, exceptionally hardworking, and secretly insecure, Cameron frequently lashes out cruelly when crossed and excuses it as simply "saying what's true" regardless of how badly it hurts the recipient. When her crush Andrew observes her verbally attacking another student, he dumps her immediately and she realizes that she needs to "tame" herself in order to win him over, just like Kate in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. She begins by trying to apologize to nerdy loner Brendan, whom she saddled with an unfortunate nickname that has haunted him since sixth grade. It's harder than she expected to get him to trust her, and Cameron begins to see his virtues—and those of others she's wounded with her nasty quips. Although she can't seem to help slipping up sometimes, she grows in empathy and in maturity and makes a lot of surprising discoveries about herself in the process. Cameron and her many friends (and frenemies) feel very genuine, and the juxtaposition of her relationship with her cold, absent father and spineless, quasi-alcoholic mother clarifies the reasons why she pushes herself beyond her limits to succeed. The dialogue is funny and effortless, and the other characters are quirky and believable.
VERDICT The authors have also written a popular series called "The Last Oracle." Expect demand.

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