________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 12. . . . February 14, 2003

cover Truth and Lies.

Tamara Williams.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2002.
123 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-55028-756-7.

Grades 9 and up/ Ages 14 and up.

Review by Jocelyn A. Dimm.

**1/2 /4


As I walked out of the hospital, the November wind hit me in the face like a slap. I breathed deeply, my lungs aching from the coldness and feeling my perspiration clinging to my back like cold ice. I was determined. I didn't care what I had to do to keep my promise to Madame Lemieux. I would find out who attacked Marcel and they would pay for their crime.

Williams tackles a variety of teen issues through a first personal narrative delivered by 15-year-old Erin Martin, starting with the introduction of Erin's jock boyfriend, Jon, her best friend Amy, Amy's "heavy-duty" Christian boyfriend, Jesse, and her gay artist friend, Marcel - all within the first six pages of the novel. This novel is fast-paced, and the story unravels around Erin's determination to discover who has brutally assaulted her gay artist friend, Marcel, and why. Issues include drugs, teen homosexuality, prejudice, relationships, and beliefs to name a few, all explored through the characters in Erin's life. At first, the theme seems to be prejudice against homosexuality, but then it becomes apparent a wider range of issues are being explored through the theme of teen relationships.

     Although Williams maintains a good plot line with many interesting twists, such as Marcel's and Jon's involvement with drugs, readers may struggle with the authenticity of the voices of the teen characters. Some comments seem more adult-like (teacher-like) than teen-like, such as when Erin describes the hallway at school:

Today, the smell of weed was pretty potent. I didn't know why teachers at the school didn't do anything about illegal substances on school grounds. But I couldn't blame the problem on the teachers, like the media tried to do. After all, it wasn't their job to police the students. I just wished somebody would or could do something. A lot of us could use the help.

     Even when Erin's boyfriend Jon, the 14-year-old jock, refers to her as "Hon," the term seems adult-oriented.

     The shift between "adult and teen" voice and the somewhat stereotyped characters - a gay-hating jock, a gay-hating fundamentalist Christian, and a gay teen artist - may bring the credibility of the characters into question.

     Even though this novel has solid moments, for example, when it is brought to light that Marcel was beaten up because he owed drug money, not because he was gay, other moments, such as Erin saying, "If only I had been a better girlfriend" seem out of place for a character who has been helping the police with the investigation.

     This novel is a quick read that may appeal to reluctant readers who are interested in the issues, but it would be recommended with reservations because of inconsistent "teen voice" and the use of strong profanity.

Recommended with reservations.

Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and doctoral student at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, BC, where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.


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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364