Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: The Truth of Right Now

Phew. The Truth of Right Now is a long emotional whirlwind, and a fabulous debut novel by Kara Lee Corthron.

Let's start by talking about the characters. Lily, struggling to overcome her painful past and lonely present, makes for a startlingly accurate leading teen. And then there's Dari, who lives with such passion, curiousity, and a thirst for life and living on the edge like none other. The characters are so well defined, dynamic and bold but just mysterious enough to keep the plot accelerating.

The book has the quintessential pieces of a teen YA romance - but a lot more too. It's not just your typical guy falls for girl or vice versa - it deals with lots of real-life, in-your-face topics too. A few among the many - abuse, rape, harassment, sexual intimacy, family conflicts, mental illness, violence, fending for yourself as a minor, inappropriate actions with dire consequences, racism, privilege, truth, lies, betrayal - it's everything and more.

While the arc of their romance holds the plot together - the side plots are just as intriguing. Their pain and isolation seems to bring them together in school, while their adventure and freedom outside of the school walls breathes life into both of them like nothing else can. Chaotic apart and at times even more of a mess together - the joy (and pain) of young love seep over every inch of this novel. It reminds of one of my favorite YA romances - If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson.

As far as grade levels - due to the intimate nature of violence, sexual scenes and language - I'd limit this one to upper HS classrooms if it were going in my library. An absolutely brilliant read, but one that definitely would be recommended with care.

"Do you think you're a 'no' person?" he asks.
"I don't know. What does that mean?"
"Do you say 'no' to things automatically? Easily?
"Let's try to say 'yes' to things tonight."
"Are you serious?"
"Totally. Let's do it. Let's be 'yes' people for" --he checks his watch-- "at least the next three hours and change. As soon as Sunday starts, we can go back to 'no.' If we want. What do ya think?"