Review: Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

25372971Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
Publisher: S&S/Atheneum
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Illness, Family, Sisterhood, Music, Romance

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Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…


If you think that Tell Me Something Real is just another ‘‘cancer’’ book, think again. And then think some more.

I wasn’t planning on reading this one anytime soon. I mean, look at that cover. It’s not exactly appealing. It makes the story look relatively boring and maybe extremely descriptive and slow-paced.

But I told myself I had to give it a try, as it was sent to me by the publisher.

And boy was I impressed.

It’s such a powerful story. The theme of family is extremely important and heartfelt. A family struggles as the mother suffers from cancer…

But it’s more than that. So much more. Sadly, telling you anything else about it will spoil the huge revelation, which took me by such surprise…

There is no way to read this book without shedding at least four tears. Calla Devlin’s writing is lyrical and, unlike I predicted, this is not slow at all and definitely not overly descriptive.

When will I learn not to judge a book by its cover? Possibly never.

I was always a fan of books featuring sisters. I never had one (I have a brother) so, even today, I wonder what it feels like to have one. I love the dynamics sisters create in a story, and the ones in this specific book are quite special.

The sisters’ reactions to their mother are very different from one another’s, which made them so interesting to analyse and try to understand.

Calla Devlin breathed life into them, because there was not a single moment where I doubted the authenticity of their emotions or characterization itself.

I truly, truly loved reading this book. The only, only thing I would have changed, although it does contribute to the story in a good way, is the romance. Only because it’s quite salient but not exactly swoon-worthy.

Everything else, though, amazed me. Music is another theme that makes the story. I did not care much for it, for I consider music to be something worth listening to but not exactly reading about. However, the emotions it unleashed in Vanessa were beautiful.

Tell Me Something Real is a must-read for fans of family-themed stories.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

  1. I’ve been sort of burned out by sick lit as well, so I’ve pretty much stayed far away from any books with just a hint of it. I’m oddly curious about the ‘revelation’ you alluded to, though.


  2. ohmygosh, you had me at “books featuring sisters”.. I have sisters and I do love reading about sister dynamics!! and heartbreaking books are totally my thing. Great review!!


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