It’s the summer of 1976 on Fire Island, where feathered hair and the Bicentennial celebration reign. Jean, a sometimes cruel, often insecure, and always envious rich girl, is accustomed to living in her glamorous older sister’s shadow. So when Gil Burke, a handsome newcomer with uncertain ties to one of the most powerful families in the exclusive enclave of Sunken Haven, notices Jean—not her sister—Jean is smitten. Then Fritz, a girl from outside the gilded gates who humiliated Jean in the Island’s tennis championship last year, falls for Gil herself. Soon the girls are competing for much more than a tennis trophy, with higher stakes than either of them can imagine.
*Thank you NetGalley and to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Be True to Me tells the story of two teenage girls, Jean Custis and Fritz O’Neill, who both fell in love with the dashing Gil Burke on the summer of 1976. Both girls are so competitive and smart yet so different in so many ways. Jean, is the privileged rich girl living in the shadow of her pretty sister and seems to be everyone’s favorite. Because of this, she developed a lot of insecurities and get jealous easily. Every summer, the Custis family spends their time on Sunken Haven, an exclusive beach town on Fire Island, along with other rich families. This time, Jean’s summer will be Daphne-free. It will be her time to shine and be noticed. Fritz, on the other hand, is what Sunkies considered as an outsider. Her family doesn’t own any house on Sunken Haven but she always gets invited by her best friend during the summer. She is an adventurer and can be reckless at times. She is nursing a broken heart and is swearing off relationship for a while. Enter Gil, a dashing newcomer in the Sunkies circle, who is out to prove himself to his powerful and rich uncle and his family. He immediately captured both Jean and Fritz’ hearts with his charm. Now, the girls are vying for a much higher stake than a tennis championship.
It is my first Adele Griffin book and I don’t know what to expect. I just know it will not be a light read and so I braced myself for some teenage drama. Sure enough, the drama is there. Be True to Me is not your typical YA story. I like how Jean and Fritz may not like each other so much but they are not ripping each other’s throat. If anything, they are civil to each other. They resented each other in a usual way that teenager does. And it is nice to read something where girls don’t bicker no matter how much they hate each other. The story was told in the alternating POVs of Jean and Fritz, which gives two different perspectives on things. I am not sure who to root for. It doesn’t help that I don’t really like the characters, aside from Julia, Fritz’ best friend. She seems fun and level-headed. But the two main characters plus Gil appear to be selfish at times that it is hard for me to like them. There were times that I sympathize more with Jean because I feel like there’s more to her but it wasn’t explored. Gil may be portrayed as a nice guy but the fact that he switches from one girl to another and left that one girl hanging shows he’s not the guy everyone believes him to be. And the fact that those two girls let that slip and continue to pine over him made me like them less.
The plot is good and the setting is perfect which fits the story perfectly. The residents are intriguing and I was hoping for some scandals with rich people involved but there’s nothing of that sort. The story focuses on Jean and Fritz and the love triangle which is interesting at first to see how things will play out for the characters. But after a while, it gets dragging. The twist though is nicely done but not actually surprising. It doesn’t affect me in a way that it should have been. The ending is okay but seems rushed that I was disappointed how some things are not addressed properly like Gil’s parentage. Despite all that, I’d say Be True to Me is still a solid book and will be a perfect summer read for those who enjoy contemporary YA.
(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)
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