Everything I Knew to Be True by Rayna York
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 12th 2019
Publisher: Toad Tree Press
It was never easy for Cassie and her mother, struggling to make ends meet in their tiny apartment in The Bronx, but they had each other and that was enough. When her mother dies suddenly from an aggressive form of cancer, Cassie is forced to finish high school in California while living with the wealthy family of her mother’s closest friend—a women she never knew existed.
Living with the Stantons is the complete opposite of what she’s used to—the massive house, a father figure, and Cody, the spoiled, insanely good-looking son with the bedroom across the hall.
Broken with grief and struggling to fit in, Cassie meets Mila, a female powerhouse that helps her cope with a hidden past, the overwhelming present, and a shared experience no one should have to endure—a nightmare they both thought was over.
I received a free copy for an honest review.
I really do love the book’s concept. When I first read the synopsis, I was so excited because it seems to include so many of my personal favorite tropes (hate-love, starting a new life, etc). But I am quite disappointed with the results because there were several things in the book that ruined the reading experience for me. However, I would not give it a 1/5 because despite me not enjoying the book, since the writing was still acceptable and I appreciate the effort.
So what ruined the experiences for me?
The cliched villain and high school setting.
“‘Oh, me?’ Shandler places her hand on her chest. ‘No way… too much fat. Can I just get the antipasto salad with the dressing on the side?'”
I think all of us to some extent has been exposed to the over-used “cliched” version of high schools (with the mean girls/jocks, and all). This book checks out (unfortunately). I don’t think much elaboration is needed for me to explain why I hate this aspect of the book. To understand how I felt, I recommend going through the worst high school movies you can find – those will do the trick.
Almost all of the dialogues are extremely stiff making the character dynamics and interactions extremely unrealistic. I think the best way to describe why and “how” the dialogues are so stiff is that the dialogues “told” so many things that should’ve been “written out” instead. The speaking style is the equivalent to when you see a movie and can just feel how scripted these scripts are. They make me feel like they are dialogues and not a real conversation.
Unsuccessful attempt and bickering couple.
This is a lot of ways is a direct extension of the “stiff dialogues”. The because dialogues in books arguably make up 90% of the chemistry/dynamic quality, bad dialogues will directly negatively influence that aspect.
An unsuccessful attempt at making the guy seem like the jerk (when he is not), resulting in the girl looking a bit like a…idiot.
An extension to further explain “unsuccessful attempt and bickering couple”. It’s like a whole chain of events: the bad dialogues lead to bad couple chemistry, which leads to the bad representation of the characters, failing the originally intended “trope effect” (jerk/popular guy with the nice girl.
In other words, It’s clear what the author is aiming for: the bad/popular/jerk boy who is “not as bad as he seems” with our (quite standardized) female protagonist of this YA contemporary novel. However, the author failed at that because the awkward dialogues ruined the dynamics and failed to portray the guy as the “golden-heart jerk”. So if the guy is obviously not a jerk from his behavior, if the girl still treats and reacts as if hew as being a jerk, this makes the girl looks like a jerk.
It’s kind of a mess.
There were also some technical issues such as typos, but I don’t mind it as much because mistakes happen and I did receive an advance review copy but I do hope that they were able to recognize it and review it before they publish it.
I’m quite disappointed with my reading experience, but I appreciate the effort and concept so I’m still going to give it a rating of 3/5.
about the author
Rayna York grew up with hippie parents that liked to adventure, so being the new kid was always a challenge. Where change was the norm, books were her constant–a way to escape. As an adult, many careers came and went, but writing has always been her passion. Everything I knew to be true is her first published novel.