Sometimes We Tell the Truth


Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 1.3 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Kim Zarins has a PhD in English from Cornell University and teaches medieval literature at Sacramento State University. When she isn't reading, writing, or teaching, she hangs out with her family in Davis, California, and coaxes a scrub jay named Joe to take peanuts from her hand.


In Sometimes We Tell the Truth (S. & S., Sept. 2016; Gr 10 Up), an update of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, 21 field trip-bound high school seniors load onto a yellow bus for the six-hour journey from Canterbury, CT, to Washington, DC. In order to keep the calm en route, Mr. Bailey challenges his charges to a storytelling competition--fantasy, fiction, based-in-truth, or whatever--and whoever tells the best story earns a free A in civics. Would-be author Jeff, constrained by easily triggered asthma as well as social insecurities, serves as narrator, while obsessing about his own turn (he recently published a story in the school literary journal that earned him accolades--even from the popular kids--and hasn't been able to write a word since) and his proximity to Pard (once best friends, the two have been estranged for years, and Pard came out of the closet sophomore year, and suddenly Jeff just can't stop thinking about him in unexpected ways). Like the original characters, Kim Zarins's cast represent a cross-section of society and are drawn with rather broad strokes, and their stories and interactions cleverly echo, reinterpret, and allude to the source material (an appended list pairs contemporary individuals with their 14th-century predecessors). These tales reference other works of literature (classics and current young adult fare) and often unwind with bawdy content, raucous language, and scandalous sex scenes. Whether zombie war epic, love story between an angel and a devil, or "Harry Potter" fan fiction, the tales entertain and elucidate, bestowing upon Jeff and his classmates the ability to see into, empathize with, and possibly understand the lives of others as well as their own. --Joy Fleishhacker--School Library Journal "9/19/16 "