cover image To Tell You the Truth

To Tell You the Truth

Beth Vrabel. Atheneum, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7859-6

Ever since her grandmother Dolcie B. Jacobs died in a car accident six months before the events of this book begin, fourth grader Trixy Mae Williams has struggled with school as her parents disappear into their own grief. Internalizing Gran’s rich oral storytelling, Trixy puts the tales to paper, despite Gran’s explicit instruction not to share them, and turns them in as her own—only to get punished for fibbing, as her teacher urges Trixy to use her natural storytelling gift to write “true” stories. When Trixy’s best friend Raymond’s father, a traveling musician, prepares to embark on a Tennessee-wide tour that auspiciously follows Gran’s pre-death plans, Trixy is desperate to go to “places like Memphis, where the music comes from every corner, draping like a blanket of sound to tuck in the town,” despite the disheartening roadblocks that materialize. Vrabel (the Newspaper Club series) offers a sympathetic majority white cast against a rich Tennessee setting; employing Trixy’s lively Southern voice and evocative descriptions to dig through her bramble of conflicting emotions, this cathartic narrative nimbly explores love, grief, revival, and what makes a tale true. Ages 8–12. Agent: Nicole Resciniti, the Seymour Agency. (June)