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The Truth About Delilah Blue

May 22, 2010

The Truth About Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen
will be published by Harper Perennial June 8, 2010

Twenty-year-old Lila Mack, once known as Delilah Blue Lovett, is a gifted artist. Lacking confidence, and with a tenuous sense of self, she destroys each of her creations as soon as she finishes it. She’s waiting for the one that will finally be good enough to keep and show the world. Lila wants to study art in college, but her father, a pragmatic, buttoned-down salesman, won’t pay for it. He fears that she’ll turn out like her charming but unreliable mother, whom Lila hasn’t heard from in 12 years. So Lila gets into art school through an indirect route, by posing nude in art classes.

She works for a gifted and perceptive, but cold and sarcastic, art teacher. She also meets a potential love interest, an art student who will soon graduate. This character, a talented young man who seems prone to spouting psychobabble when he’s drunk, never fully came into focus for me.

Then her long-lost mother reappears in her life, bringing Lila’s half-sister, Kieran, and old secrets begin to unravel. These secrets are not hard to guess, but watching them unfold still kept me turning pages. In the midst of these devastating revelations, Lila’s father lapses into erratic behavior and memory loss. While trying to reconcile herself to seemingly unforgivable things that happened in her childhood, Lila faces the prospect of having to parent her sick father.

It took me a while to become fully absorbed in this book. Though I am not the kind of reader who needs to be “hooked” immediately, the beginning of the novel just didn’t grab me. Once I was drawn in, however, the story kept gaining momentum. I connected with Lila as she came to really know each of her complex, loving parents who were definitely not what they appeared.

The style of this novel reminded me a bit of Jodi Picoult’s books. The author took several complex, highly charged issues, created vivid, multi-layered characters, and led us through a story that became increasingly intense. Like Picoult, Cohen examined an issue from multiple angles, exploring moral ambiguity and deeply flawed, but likable characters. The wealth of issues and feelings revealed weren’t explored in as much depth as I would have liked, and the story’s ending was too neat and tidy. However, I did enjoy this novel, especially the way Cohen took me into the mind of her protagonist, letting me feel what it was like to be in Lila’s skin. I also liked the way she vividly painted Lila’s home on a Southern California cabin, and I enjoyed a thread running through the story that featured a coyote, dubbed “Slash,” who is sighted in the canyon. This thread is full of symbolism, which will offer a fun discussion point for teen readers.

This is an enjoyable and thought-provoking, though uneven, novel which will be enjoyed by readers of both YA and adult fiction; I think it will especially appeal to older teens. I will have my eye on Tish Cohen’s work in the future.

I borrowed this ARC from Around the World Tours


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2010 7:39 pm

    Something about this book didn’t sit well with me, until I read your review. Now I can’t wait to read it. Thank you! 😀
    You say Jodi Picoult and I say yes, please.

    • May 22, 2010 8:01 pm

      If you decide to read this novel, Robby, I will be interested to hear what you think. I’ll especially be curious to see whether you agree that it’s somewhat reminiscent of Jodi Picoult. I know how much you love her. 😉

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