Friday, August 9, 2019

Book Review: "If I'm Being Honest" by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Cameron Bright, a high school senior, is beautiful, blonde, and popular. She also has a bit of a reputation around school.

"...I've been called that name often enough, under enough breaths, for it not to hurt. Not from a girl like her. It's hardly an uncommon thought here. Cameron Bright's a bitch."

The thing is, while Cameron can be cruel in the way she says things to people, she's really just brutally honest. It's a quality she inherited from her father, whom she never sees, since her parents never lived together, even before she was born. Her father is a tremendous business success, but he's a jerk, and he doesn't mince words—especially not in his interactions with Cameron. Yet she still craves his approval and has planned her future to be closer to him.

One night she's ready to let her good friend Andrew know she has feelings for him. And just as they start getting closer, Cameron has a run-in with Paige, a quirky, moody fellow student, and she lets fly with some cruel insults. Andrew realizes that he isn't interested in being with, well, a bitch, and he suspects that she only wanted to be with him because she finally deemed him socially acceptable.

Devastated by Andrew's rejection, and inspired by her English class's reading of The Taming of the Shrew, Cameron resolves to "tame" herself and prove to Andrew that she's worthy of his attention and has the ability to be a better person. She's determined to make it up to Paige, and then the more she thinks of it, she decides to go back and make amends to all the people she has wronged.

It all seems to start with Brendan, Paige's younger brother, on whom she bestowed a horrible nickname ("Barfy Brendan") years ago, which singlehandedly ruined his social life, leaving him to spend his days in the high school computer lab. As Cameron tries to redeem herself in Brendan's eyes, he wants nothing to do with her at first, until the two start to bond over video games. The more time she spends with Brendan, she realizes that he accepts her, faults and all, and even appreciates her honesty. So why is she trying so hard to change herself for Andrew?

If I'm Being Honest is an utterly charming book about recognizing the fine line between self-improvement and changing yourself completely, and realizing that you shouldn't go changing to try and please someone else. (Thanks, Billy Joel.) It's a story about finding the things that make you happy as opposed to things you believe will make others happy, and believing you are worthy of love and respect.

Sure, you've seen this story before, and you probably can predict how the plot will unfold, but in the hands of Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, you get hooked on the story from the start. I really liked Cameron's character because she was fairly uncompromising, and while she was a little cruel, it's nice to see a character who speaks her mind, not always with the purpose of hurting others. She has her faults, but there are still so many good qualities in her.

I definitely like the message that this book tries to convey. If I'm Being Honest definitely had me rooting for certain characters and it put me in a good mood, and I was sad when I finished the book. (Plus, any book that has its characters go to The Rocky Horror Picture Show gets points from me!)

This one was a winner!

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