THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY was a big, big hit at Children's Book World, and I think I'm going to need to make FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE a big, bit hit at Pudd'NHead. You guys don't need me to harp on again about how much in love I am with some of today's tween books because they're just so tween-tastic, do you? I mean, I've been singing that song here for awhile; you probably know all the words. So just know this: FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE is tween-tastic, so handsell (or buy from an indie) away!
Scarlett has a major, MAJOR secret. (I'm not going to reveal it here; you find it out at the beginning of chapter two, so you don't have long to wait.) It's so secret and so life-altering that her mom ships Scarlett off to a fancypants all-girls boarding school to shield her from any gossip having to do with said secret. But Scarlett lives in fear of someone finding out anyway, so she begins her eighth-grade year at the new school in a constant state of paranoia.
It only gets worse when the girls are assigned anonymous pen pals from a neighboring all-boys school. The letters from Scarlett's pen pal start off innocently enough, but soon she receives this:
Number Seventeen: Welcome to FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE. Over the next few weeks, I will be sending you five declarative statements. Four of these statements are true, and one is a lie. It will be your job to figure out which is which. You have until Monday to figure it out. If you choose not to participate in this game, you are destined for darkness.Good luck.
Scarlett is intrigued, and agrees to participate in the game. It all starts out seeming like fun, but by the third letter it becomes clear that is she does not answer everything correctly, her pen pal will reveal her secret to the school.
Her pen pal knows her secret.
How important to Scarlett is hiding the truth from everyone? Would her life really be over if it came out? Is she smart enough for this fancypants boarding school, or can she at least catch up - because flunking out would be almost as embarrassing as having her secret revealed. Why is her roommate such a snotty pain in the you know what? And how on earth is she supposed to solve this mystery, study, and figure out who the cute boy she met is?
Barnholdt spins a pitch-perfect story with enough fun and intrigue to please any tween. I definitely recommend this, especially at the price point ($5.99!). There's a lot of story in here for a great value, with realistic characters that girls will identify with and a bit of a mystery to solve along the way. (The book, however, is NOT a mystery.) There's a bit too much product name-dropping for my taste, but it does serve to establish part of who Scarlett is so I can see why it was thought necessary. In the end, though, that's a fairly minor complaint about a book I am going to enjoy selling quite a lot.
(And whoever's in charge of buying the books for the MIX imprint? I am a big fan.)
Buy FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE from an independent bookstore!