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The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Tween

The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Tween - Barbara Becker Holstein A young girl shares her secret diary, in which she reveals the "truth" about her life from ages 11 to 13. She tells us about her family, her best friend Angela, the new boy Paul who she has a crush on, her inability to communicate with her mother, her annoying six-year-old brother, getting picked last for the kickball team, and even a few "gross" personal secrets.

As you can see, this book covers a diverse range of topics. It will open up the lines of discussion for parents to talk to their tween girls about getting their first bra, having a crush on a boy, swearing, parents fighting, younger siblings, mean girls, independence, wearing makeup, self-esteem, fighting with their best friend, animal cruelty, the Holocaust, school grades, keeping healthy, menstruation, the fear of growing up, death, suicide, moving home, coping with homework, taking drugs, and body image.

I believe this is an updated version of the book originally published in 2007. While there are many modern references (e.g., computers, Facebook, cell phones, email), there is also reference to a phone with a dial (not buttons) and having to retype a three-page paper (not necessary if you're using a computer). The books the girl reads are also really old (e.g., Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Black Beauty) and, even though this is somewhat explained later in the book, it still feels like this is more what the author herself would have read as a child.

I encountered a few other problems: the diary entries are a bit too far apart to be real (e.g., the girl skips over Christmas two years in a row); the girl's friends should have come over on July 17 when she was going to teach them how to bake brownies, but this didn't happen until August 7); there are unanswered questions, such as how her fight with Angela is resolved; the girl only mentions her new friend Dawn a few weeks after they first meet; from the beginning of the diary to December 5, each entry ends with a "truth", then there is no mention of the "truth" until June 30 the next year.

As an adult I found the book to be a bit contrived and preachy, but it is probably well-suited to the 10 to 13 young adult target audience. It brings back memories of first love and the intense emotions of friendship and wanting to fit in. The story is followed by discussion questions for kids.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-truth-by-barbara-becker-holstein.html