cover image The Truth About Us

The Truth About Us

Janet Gurtler. Sourcebooks Fire, $9.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4022-7800-6

Ever since Jess's mother was attacked in a random, violent assault and subsequently fell into a depression, their family has fractured, and Jess's own behavior has become destructive. After Jess is caught drinking, sunbathing topless, and running up her parents' credit card, her father forces her to spend the summer volunteering at a local shelter. Privileged Jess is fearful and judgmental at first, but she soon befriends Wilf, a cantankerous elderly volunteer, and falls for a boy named Flynn, who brings his younger brother to the shelter for meals. Jess and Flynn's attraction is immediate and intense, but their friends and families don't want to see kids from different neighborhoods together. Jess's conversations with Wilf are gratifying, and her evolution into a more conscientious person comes across organically. Yet the story is weighed down by occasionally mawkish dialogue ("Fair is a place that has corn dogs and Ferris wheels. It's not real life," Flynn responds when Jess complains that life isn't fair) and the rehashing of plot. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Corcoran, Jill Corcoran Literary Agency. (Apr.)