BOOK REVIEW : IF I’M BEING HONEST

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.


review

This could also be titled “Self-taming of a self-proclaimed shrew”.

Cameron Bright is a mean girl. She thinks her friend Andrew is the one for her. But when he sees her being unnecessarily harsh to a classmate of theirs, he calls her a ‘bitch’. Cameron can’t bear Andrew having such a low opinion of her and wants to get into his good books again.

A discussion on ‘Taming of the Shrew’ in her English class makes her decide to tame herself à la Katherine. First step is apologizing to people she’s wronged. However, at first, it’s all because she wants to get Andrew back. Eventually, though her intentions become genuine. She even finds good friends and a potential love interest along the way.

What I liked most about the story was that Katherine is very self-aware. She knows what she is and does not pretend to be something else. She also knows why she is the way she is. She’s got a deadbeat mother and a rich absent father who are unmarried. Although her father lives in another city and is busy looking after his empire, and too busy to say two words of kindness to his daughter, Katherine wants his approval.

It’s him who fixes the mess that her mom makes and will always send the money for their living. Katherine admits to herself that it’s her father’s honest and harsh way of dealing with her that makes her the way she is. Katherine also, although harsh, never shies away from the truth. She also is hell bent on getting her father’s approval, even if it means studying Maths to get into the top business school, rather than the subject appeals to her – pursuing graphic design and arts.

Despite understanding where the character was coming from, I was frustrated and did not agree with many of the things she did. I also had mixed feelings about some of the secondary characters. I just could not connect with them. Having said that, all the characters were really well-fleshed out. The romance started off with great potential but I was not happy with the direction it took in the end.

What won me over in the end, though, was the organic character growth of Katherine. Her self-reflections and transition were a pleasure to witness, despite my frustrations with certain decisions she took. Also, I really liked the honest discussions and discourse on the topic of The Taming of The Shrew by the characters. These intelligent and intuitive insights turned it into an engaging read, even if not a perfect YA by any stretch.


ratings

★★★★☆

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