Book Reviews

Book Review: Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

This moving debut novel in verse about a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of an accident that nearly takes her brother’s life is a stunning exploration of grief and the power of forgiveness.
The reminder is always there—a dent on the right side of Jonah’s forehead. The spot you’d press when you felt a headache coming on. The bullet tore away bone, the way dynamite blasts rock—leaving a soft crater.
Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay’s father’s gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv seems to be the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.
With Liv’s mom suing Clay’s family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she’s not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.

Title: Three Things I Know Are True
Author: Betty Culley
Publisher: Harper Teen
Format: Digital ARC
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Rating:  3.8//5 Owls

Written entirely in verse, this is a novel that is a little hard to get into, but its brilliant once you do.

The story is told through the eyes of Liv, and honestly, she’s not the most likeable character. Her love for her brother is amazing and mostly selfless, but that’s pretty much her only redeeming quality. She’s not a very good friend, she consistently acts a lot younger than she is, and is just extremely, ridiculously, immature. It works though. Liv didn’t have the easiest life before the accident, and it’s definitely a lot harder afterwards, her strange behavior makes sense for the type of life that she has to live everyday. Her weird, childish naming of the various machines Jonah needs could just be a coping mechanism as she struggles to accept her life.

I also really loved the relationship between Liv and Clay. Her mother despises Clay and his family, she blames them entirely for the accident and wants nothing to do with them. But Liv and Clay were friends before, and she struggles with loyalty to her family, and to Clay.

I don’t really want to talk too much about gun violence and the repercussions of it, because that’s not what this book is about. Yes, the trial is a big part of the book, but in the end whose “fault” the accident was doesn’t really matter, it’s more about the grieving process, accepting life after tragedy, finding a way to smile when all is lost.

One thing I didn’t like was Liv’s friends other than the nurses and Clay. I honestly don’t remember any of their names because they serve zero purpose – they’re just randomly included so Liv has someone to talk too about a plot point, or to help move the story forward a little bit. Only one of them was memorable in anyway, and that’s only because she’s a petty thief and we get to watch her steal things a few times.

Overall this is a very straight-forward story. There’s not much in the way of plot and is more about coping, and loss, and the way the characters feel, not necessarily what they’re doing.

I will admit, that I cried at the end of it. The ending is so full of life and emotion that despite my general dislike of Liv, I fell a little bit in love with her as her life changed. It’s a very moving story, and one that I recommend for anyone that is looking for a quick, contemporary, and emotional read.

Three Things I Know Are True was released last week! Go grab a copy today!

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