Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Be True to Me

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Just Finished Reading ... Be True to Me

Be True to Me
by Adele Griffin

Published on June 13, 2017
by Algonquin Young Readers

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Synopsis from Goodreads: It's the summer of 1976 on Fire Island, where feathered hair and the Bicentennial celebration reign. Jean, a sometimes cruel, often insecure, and always envious rich girl, is accustomed to living in her glamorous older sister’s shadow. So when Gil Burke, a handsome newcomer with uncertain ties to one of the most powerful families in the exclusive enclave of Sunken Haven, notices Jean—not her sister—Jean is smitten. Then Fritz, a girl from outside the gilded gates who humiliated Jean in the Island’s tennis championship last year, falls for Gil herself. Soon the girls are competing for much more than a tennis trophy, with higher stakes than either of them can imagine.

My take: Be True to Me is a story of rivalry, jealousy and betrayal. I also thought it was a really beautiful piece of writing.

The story takes place in the 1970s on Fire Island, and is told in alternating first person POV by two girls who have just graduated from high school. Jean is a sophisticated New Yorker, a girl who has always felt inferior to her glamorous older sister. Fritz is a Southerner, and feels out of place in this summer community of wealthy New Yorkers. There's a history of rivalry between the two girls, as the summer before, Fritz won a tennis trophy that Jean thought of as hers (Jean's mother and sister won in prior years.) There's also a guy involved in the rivalry. Gil Burke is going out with Fritz, but Jean throws herself at him as well.

This book started out with a languorous tone and pace, but the tension and suspense rose slowly, almost imperceptibly, until the end had me furiously turning the pages. Though I don't remember the 1970s well, I loved the slang (jeez and crud) and cultural references (Looking for Mr. Goodbar, David Bowie, and Elton John) and the story world felt really cohesive and convincing.

At first I wasn't sure I would like the triangle-y feel of the book or the two POVs, but in the end I thought it worked well. The book was really all about these two very different girls and their uneasy relationship. Gil was an important character, but he was also something they were competing for, just like the tennis trophy. Though some bad stuff happens, I found all three characters sympathetic in their way. Finally, while I thought this was a beautiful book, it's definitely not the typical YA. In its tone and pacing, Be True to Me felt more to me like book club fiction in the vein of, say, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. 

If you like literary fiction, historical fiction or coming of age stories, or you're looking for a book club pick, you should definitely try this.

4 comments:

  1. I don't think I would have given this one a try because of the triangle but it does sound good.

    For What It's Worth

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  2. I've been this book on Insta, but I didn't know anything about it. It's not my kind of read, but it sounds really interesting. I'll add it to my TBR soon!

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  3. I haven't seen this book around before, but you have me convinced that it is better than just another love triangle. It sounds lie the rivalry becomes so heated and intense and I wonder how far they'd take it...

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  4. I love the cover but this isn't really my type of book. Glad you liked it, though!

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