Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo
Published by Hachette
Gabriella is twenty-one years old and has lived with her father in Los Angles ever since her mother died when she was four. Twice a year, she visits her maternal grandmother in Cali, Columbia, and during one of these visits she meets Angel, who is from the same circle of friends as Gabriella’s but also has a drug lord for a father, which is why Gabriella’s grandmother cautions her against falling for him. During this same visit, Gabriella finds an old diary of her mother’s, written in letters to Gabriella herself, which concludes just before her mother’s death. Tell Me Something True is told in alternating chapters between Gabriella’s current life and her mother’s diary, giving the reader a complete picture of these two women’s lives.
This is such a beautiful novel, I must start by saying that. The prose is lyrical and gorgeous, the alternating chapters between mother and daughter create the perfect atmosphere, and there is something about novels set in other countries that gets me every time. The setting of Colombia was done quite well in this case, and although I have never traveled there myself, I now feel that I have a good idea of what Cali is like.
Gabriella is such an intriguing character and I really enjoyed getting to know her throughout the novel. She is a girl without a mother, but luckily she has wonderful role models in her father and grandmother, and her character is truly that of a strong and smart young woman. It is almost exhilarating to read as she falls in love with Angel, because the reader can clearly see that this guy is dangerous, but he is so sweet and loving to Gabriella that one can’t help rooting for the relationship.
Gabriella’s mother, Helena, is also an interesting character, especially because the reader only gets to know her through her diary. What I loved about these letters is that although they were written to four-year-old Gabriella, Helena is strikingly candid in them. See, she’d been having an affair at the time of her death, and Gabriella has to struggle with the understanding that her mother may have chosen to leave her and her father for her lover had she lived long enough to make that decision. The circumstances of her death are revealed in the beginning of the book, but through the letters Gabriella comes to the understanding that there was more to it than she originally thought.
Ultimately Gabriella sees the parallels between her mother’s story and her own relationship with Angel, and she is forced to decide between the possibilities of a life with Angel and her “real life” back in Los Angeles. Tell Me Something True is a coming of age story of the highest order, with absolutely gorgeous writing and a central character one can’t help but love. I absolutely adored this novel.