Sometimes We Tell the Truth
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales doesn’t leap to mind when one thinks of a modernization for teens, but that’s exactly what Kim Zarins has done with Sometimes We Tell the Truth, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
This book takes place on a bus with a group of high school seniors who are going on a field trip to Washington, D.C. To keep them from getting too rowdy, their teacher challenges each of them to tell a story, and they can choose a winner who will get an automatic A on the final.
The stories are as varied as the kids on the bus, but they keep to the spirit of Chaucer’s original. Bawdy, humorous, raunchy, and also touching, the class weaves entertaining stories that also illuminate the truth of their lives.
Set against the tales, Jeff (Chaucer) also narrates his own tale of self-discovery and love that keeps things moving toward a very emotionally satisfying ending.
LGBTQ and diverse characters interact believably in this book. Although in keeping with the original Chaucer, stereotypes play out a little, but not entirely. Each character has depth and more than a few surprises up their sleeve.
This is a worthy retelling of Chaucer’s classic for a new age.