My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

Please Note:  I received an ARC copy of this book from Irish Banana Tours in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect the opinions in my review in any way.

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…

Having had cancer, I am drawn to stories that explore the effects that major illnesses have on families.  This book deals with three sisters coping with their mother's leukemia.  Taking care of their mom is all-encompassing: the trips to Mexico for treatments, helping give their mom medications, taking care of the house and their youngest sister, Marie.  It is overwhelming for Vanessa and her sister Adrienne.  Their father is not much help, as he is trying to make enough money to afford his wife's treatments at a Mexican clinic.  He is never home.

I really try to keep spoilers out of reviews, so I cannot say more about the plot, but I was blown away by what happens in this novel.

There is so much more going on than what is on the surface.  Nothing is as it seems.  

The book presents many moral conundrums.    How can you balance earning a living with caring for your family?  Should you tell your children all the details when there is a family crisis?  How can one feel safe amid family chaos?  Can a teen make decisions on their future without feeling guilty?  How does one forgive a parent when they make a mistake?  There was so much to think about.

I loved all the sisters in this book.  Each one has a different way of getting through their family predicament. Peter (the dad) drowns himself in work to avoid his wife's illness.  Adrienne is foul-mouthed and rebellious.  Marie becomes obsessed with the gruesome lives of Catholic saints.  And Vanessa overcompensates by assuming the role as caretaker for their mom.   

I was so invested in this family's situation, that I yelled out loud when the book took a sudden, dramatic turn.  This pretty much sums up my reaction:

Normally, one would think that I didn't like this book.  But it was just so astonishing that I then dove down the rabbit hole and was amazed all over again.

This book was tender, showing the power of sibling relationships.  There is a special bond forged in difficult times.  While each girl has different ways of working through the situation, the sisters rely on each other.  No one else can understand what they are going through.  I would be really interested to read a follow up book on how these girls are in 10 or 15 years.

This book is much different than how I envisioned it would be.  It was surprising, sweet, and provocative.  I can't recommend this highly enough.


Release Date:  August 30th, 2016

Source:  NetGalley & Irish Banana Tours

Format:  Digital ARC

Recommendation:  This is an amazing book that I will think about for a long time.  Run out and get a copy today!


About Calla Devlin:

 Calla Devlin is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best Of Blood And Thunder award whose stories have been included in numerous literary journals and in anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect On The Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco magazine.

Tell Me Something Real is her first book.

And now for a giveaway:

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  1. You mentioned that Adrienne has a foul mouth. Is there a lot of profanity in the book?

    1. I wouldn't say there was a lot of profanity. It's just that this is part of Adrienne's character. She really does it to shock people.


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2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
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