Monday, January 22, 2007

Nothing but the Truth (And a Few White Lies)

Headley, Justina Chan. 2006. NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES). New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316011282 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

High school sophomore Patty Ho is a hapa—half white, half Asian--fifteen year old who feels that she doesn’t fit in anywhere. She takes after her dad’s side of the family as far as looks go, the dad who left her mother with two kids to raise alone. On top of that, her older brother Abe looks as Taiwanese as his mother and his on his way to Harvard. When “belly button grandma” predicts a white boyfriend in the future, her mother decides to send her to math camp at Stanford University rather than let her work at the mall again. Despite her initial resistance, camp itself isn’t so bad. Her roommate is one who enjoys breaking the rules and the Asian boy she meets the first day is pretty hot. Things are going well until her mother turns up when she stops returning her calls and decides that Patty is having much too much fun and not studying enough. They reach a compromise and Patty can stay at camp but must live with her Aunt Lu. While not thrilled, Patty learns a lot about her mother and her mother’s life.

While a little heavy-handed at times, the novel is both humorous and thought provoking. While one might wish that the book might expand on her return to her home after her summer of change, we can always hope for a sequel.

This book is a good springboard for discussing feelings about fitting in and dealing with parental expectations, especially for students who are straddling two cultures.

Books for teenagers with biracial characters:
Adoff, Jaime. JIMI AND ME. ISBN 1423104005
Triana, Gaby. CUBANITA. ISBN 0060560207

By Janet Hilbun

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