Be True to Me

352p. Algonquin. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781616206758.
RedReviewStarGr 8 Up—Eager to escape her sister's shadow for the summer, privileged but insecure Jean Custis is delighted to meet newcomer Gil Burke one early June night. Yet within a matter of days, Gil has been intercepted by Fritz, a girl with no family connections to the small town of Sunken Harbor, who humiliated Jean in last year's tennis playoff. As both girls interact with Gil through the summer of 1976, their relationships grow complicated and eventually lead to disastrous consequences for all three. Set against the backdrop of a Long Island beach town in the 1970s, Griffin's latest is peppered with historical references without being heavy-handed. From the evocative descriptions of the sun-drenched setting down to the tiny details of rickrack being sewn onto a summer dress, this book is an immersive experience. The dual perspectives work well; the protagonists have two very distinct narrative voices. The feeling of dread that permeates the latter half of the novel comes to a head, and the concluding chapters will have readers racing to reach the final pages. Some sexual content and an unhappy ending make this a better choice for mature readers.
VERDICT An atmospheric and engaging piece of historical fiction, this work will haunt and resonate with readers long after it ends. An excellent selection for YA collections.

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