Have you ever read a book that you can’t put down no matter how hard you try? Do you remember the last book that changed your perspective on certain things after you finished it? If you know what I mean, then you’re de los mios. If not, don’t worry about it. It’s never too late to start appreciating literature! Without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to the book, The Truth Is, written by NoNieqa Ramos that will make you dramatically gasp mid-sentence, cry, and laugh. I want to tell you ALL about it, but I’m only going to give you just enough to hook you on it. Truly, we are obsessed with it and we hope you become obsessed with it too!
The Truth Is tackles a lot of issues that transcend its YA style. It focuses on the events of Verdad De La Reyna who is a 15-year-old girl trying to survive every day despite the lingering trauma in her life. The book starts with Verdad’s silent, yet heavily apparent struggle with the abrupt passing of her best friend, Blanca. She is now trying to learn how to cope with life without her by her side. Since she’s experiencing hyper-awareness of loss, she also starts to resent the absence of her father a bit more throughout the book. Her parents divorced when she was young and her father started a new family since then. Now, she has to deal with her very Puerto Rican mother on her own, while she tries to maneuver through her own feelings. It doesn’t help that her mother expects her to be an overachiever, even though she’s evidently drowning in her own headspace at the moment. But try to sympathize with the mother as you read about her.
Verdad’s mother works herself to the bone. She is a nurse who works at three different hospitals and also engages in humanitarian work during her spare time. Apparently, she doesn’t believe in downtime. You can perhaps interpret this as a way to distract herself from her own feelings since everything that’s happened around her daughter’s life. Or maybe she is trying to bring some sort of happiness into her daughter’s life by making sure she lives comfortably. Maybe she thinks that’s what she needs. Or maybe you’ll perceive her as selfish. Who knows. You’ll have to read to make your own opinions on it.
Something that I truly loved about this book is that it hits you hard from the beginning. You’ll notice that in the first chapter, NoNieqa shows Verdad fervently scrubbing a scar on her knee as she showers. I’ll give a brief spoiler on this part because I think it’s one of the reasons you should read this book. See, Blanca was killed at a movie theater by a white supremacist. Verdad, on the other hand, only received a scar from where the bullet hit her that night. I won’t say more because I want you to read it, but I’m hoping you understand why this it’s important this issue is now appearing in literature.
As if that wasn’t reason enough for you to pick up this book, NoNieqa also incorporates the subject of identity within The Truth Is. While mourning the loss of Blanca, a new boy is enrolled in her school. More specifically, a white transgender boy named Danny. Despite whatever judgments were imposed unto Verdad, she feels very attracted to Danny. This triggers her to wonder about her own sexuality. She wonders if liking Danny makes her a lesbian. If you read this close enough, this part of the storyline can somehow be worked into a modern love storyline of the late Selena’s popular song, Amor Prohibido.
Aside from her sexuality, you can see Verdad feeling conflicted towards her cultural identity throughout The Truth Is. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to understand where she fits in with her very Puerto Rican mother and family. I think its great NoNieqa included this in her book. After all, how many Latinx people in the United States don’t struggle with this issue?
NoNieqa does a phenomenal job of exposing the reader to difficult situations that can be a graspable reality with how things are nowadays. Yet, her writing style laces carefully through each event in such a way that it doesn’t make it seem like too much heavy reading. People, this is a must-read. Get the book, so we can all talk about it!