Summary: To Tell You the Truth by Beth Vrabel
To Tell You The Truth immediately caught my attention because of that adorable cover! Fourth-grader Trixy’s gran died in a car accident (Trixy was in the back seat and survived) and since then things at home have not been the same. Her parents don’t want to talk about Gran and her mom isn’t eating well and is exercising a bit too much. Trixy’s only solace is her gran’s stories. However, only Trixy seems to believe Gran’s stories about her childhood and she promised Gran that she would keep some of the stories to herself. But when Trixy NEEDS to write stories to pass fourth grade, the only stories she can think to write are Gran’s.
When Trixy enters a non-fiction writing contest using Gran’s stories, some people begin to dispute the truth of those stories. Add some trouble at home to the mix and Trixy is forced to run off with her neighbor, Raymond, when his dad goes on a tour that stops over at several landmarks in Gran’s stories. But are Gran’s stories about a sister and a difficult, but often magical life, true?
The voice in this story is just lovely. Trixy is a scrawny, opinionated, witty character who like everyone else sometimes gets too focused on herself. I tweeted this already, but this story has strong Louisiana’s Way Home vibes, so if you enjoyed that one, you’ll love this. It also reminded me a lot about O’Shaughnessy’s The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane. Trixy’s bond with her grandmother is so sweet, and this book is every bit as much Trixy’s story as it is her Gran’s.
I also loved seeing Trixy’s friendship with Raymond develop throughout the story and it was sweet to see Trixy work to become a better friend. Raymond’s father is a musician whose wife packed up and left when Raymond was six. His sister is a teen with low vision — she sometimes has to use a cane when she’s in a new environment.
I so wish the road trip section had started sooner in the story, but I recognize that it was important for us to first build a bond with Gran through Trixy’s stories. This made the road trip more meaningful for me as a reader. I loved the way the author handles Trixy’s mother’s eating disorder. She does have to be a treatment facility for a short time, but it was all addressed sensitively and will not be tough for young readers to process. The road trip itself was the right blend of adventure and emotional with a big twist at the end.
Overall: To Tell You the Truth by Beth Vrabel
To Tell You the Truth is a moving, adventurous, and heartwarming story about family, storytelling, and friendship. Trixy shares the spotlight with her Gran as both their stories are shared in this book. Readers will delight in Trixy’s gift of storytelling, the life-changing road trip she embarks on, and the life-long friendships she solidifies throughout the story. Featuring a fourth-grade protagonist, this unmissable, voice-y middle grade book is perfect for fans of Louisiana’s Way Home and The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane in grades 3 and up.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.