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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green



Title: Sometimes We Tell the Truth
Author(s): Kim Zarins
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, 448 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble - iBooks - Book Depository

Tour Schedule

Week One:
8/29/2016 - Novel Novice - Guest Post
8/30/2016 - A Gingerly Review - Review
8/31/2016- Twinning for Books - Guest Post
9/1/2016- The Petite Book Blogger - Review
9/2/2016 - BookCatPin - Guest Post

Week Two:
9/5/2016 - Just Commonly - Review
9/6/2016 - Wandering Bark Books - Guest Post
9/7/2016 - The Reading Nook Reviews - Review
9/8/2016 - Literary Meanderings - Guest Post
9/9/2016 - Eli to the nth - Review (ME!)

The Summary

In this contemporary retelling of The Canterbury Tales, a group of teens on a bus ride to Washington, DC, each tell a story—some fantastical, some realistic, some downright scandalous—in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a perfect score.

Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind:
     -Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
     -He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
    -He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey.
    -And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC.

But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class.

But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind—can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say.

In her debut novel, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in a fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together. 

My Opinion

If you were one of those students in English Literature who dreaded reading The Canterbury Tales, well then I suggest that you crack open Sometimes We Tell the Truth. Kim Zarins does a masterful job of taking the great literary devices and structure of The Canterbury Tales and translating them into an amazingly refreshing and accessible novel, one which will make you appreciate The Canterbury Tales, erasing bad memories.

The overall premise of the book is a class trip/road trip tale filled with students from the same Senior civics class, on their way to Washington, D.C.  You see each of the characters through the eyes of the narrator, Jeff (get it like Geoffrey Chaucer), and then the book is interspersed with the "tales" that the students are set to do to keep busy by their teacher Mr. Bailey.  Each of these stories reveals something new about each character, creating a rounded experience without detracting from the main plot.

There is a little bit for everyone, and I think the heart of the story really shines through.  Each character is loving and hatful in their own way, and really reflects the dynamics of high school in a way that I feel reads very true.  I don't want to give a lot of the story away because it is a journey that builds as you travel along with the group, but it is encompassing and epic.

For both lovers of Chaucer and no-nothings about his work, Sometimes We Tell the Truth has something to hook all readers, and Zarins tells a romp of a good story!

Final Rating

About the Author

Kim Zarins has a PhD in English from Cornell University and teaches medieval literature and children’s literature at Sacramento State University.  Her debut novel, Sometimes We Tell the Truth, retells Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with modern teens, and she wrote it with a gigantic smile on her face (there are funny bits).  She also published two picture books for very young children.  When she isn’t reading or writing or teaching, she is feeding peanuts to a very hungry scrub jay named Joe.

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