Tell Me Something Real: A finalist for the PEN Literary Award, finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award, and International Literacy Literary Award Honor. Published by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books.

Tell Me Paperback.jpg

"This debut is hands-down one of a kind." —Kirkus Reviews *Starred

Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls travel with her to a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…


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Praise & News

William C. Morris Award Finalist: The American Library Association/YALSA's William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. Read Calla's Morris Award Remarks.

PEN Literary Award Finalist

International Literacy Literary Award Honor: In its 42nd year, the awards program recognizes newly published authors who show exceptional promise in the children’s and young adult book fields.

"It’s rare to find such a large group of characters who are so well-developed as to be almost real, and the prose is eloquent and precise, every word chosen with care... this debut is hands-down one of a kind." -Kirkus Reviews *Starred

"A gorgeously written novel that doesn't shy away from recognizing the hard limits of love." -Tommy WallachNew York Times Bestselling author of We All Looked Up

"Readers will eagerly sink into Devlin's richly detailed writing, accompanying Vanessa on a journey marked by moments of deep connection and equally profound pain." -Publishers Weekly

"Set in 1976, Calla Devlin’s impressive debut, Tell Me Something Real, is a compelling coming-of-age novel with a trio of sisters at its center…  A rewarding read for teens, this is a smart, compassionate story about living with loss and learning to make the most of each moment.” -BookPage

"The novel’s lyric prose and earnest treatment of grief, sacrifice, and recovery are sure to keep the pages turning." -Booklist

"An intriguing tale of illness, love, loss, and betrayal that is sure to reel in teens looking for something with a little bit of darkness hidden in the pages." -School Library Journal

"Fully realized characters and lovely sentence-level writing make this an engaging debut." -Horn Book

"Calla Devlin's prose is hauntingly beautiful, and there's a touch of darkness in this story about sickness, family, and love." -Bustle

"READ IT, READ IT, READ IT! This book is another example, like A.S. King novels, where I feel books shouldn't be labeled as 'young adult' but 'books for humans' instead. PS - Don't forget tissues." -BookRiot

"Calla Devlin's debut novel is taut and well-structured, with a believable narrator teens will relate to and a surprising twist on the terminal-illness story that grabs you and doesn't let go.... The well-developed characters, air of mystery, splash of teen romance, and unexpected turn in the story keep the pages turning." -Common Sense Media

USA Today's Happily Ever After Blog Author Q&A with Calla Devlin

Book Riot picks Tell Me Something Real as one of the best 100 books about sisters.

Teen Vogue picks Tell Me Something Real as a "Best of August Read"! "August’s must-reads are literary debuts tackling underrepresented issues of mental illness, abuse, and loss. Issue-based books are having a moment this summer, but each makes a poignant and thunderous statement all its own."  

Riveted Lit essay about the story behind Tell Me Something Real.

BookRiot picks Tell Me Something Real as one of October 2016's best books.

Craft Your Content picks Tell Me Something Real as a best book of 2016. 

Teen Reads interview with Calla Devlin and Meg Medina, author of Burn Baby Burn.

Big City Bookworm names Tell Me Something Real as one of the most anticipated August 2016 releases. Read the review

School Library Journal Webcast: A Conversation with Three Debut YA Authors. Calla Devlin joins Meg Leder, author of The Museum of Heartbreak, and Laurent Linn, author of Draw the Line, to discuss publishing debut novels and the writing process.  

Interview with Adventures in YA Publishing 

Interview with That Artsy Reader Girl

Interview with Forum Magazine

Interview with Kismet

Book inspirations with Rebelle Reads

Interview with Never Too Many to Read

Pondering the Prose review

Hit or Miss Books review

Overflowing Bookshelves review

Today's Echos review 

Arctic Books review

The Book Sp(l)ot review 

It's Either Sadness or Euphoria review

Story Sanctuary review

Book Return review

Soul Librarian review 

Tales of a Ravenous Reader review

Book Review Forum review

With Love for Books review 

International Literacy Association's What a Character! review

Hardcovers and Heroines review

Live from Prairie Lights reading (audio)

Pique Beyond the BookYou Love Her, You Hate Her, You Need Her: Happy Sisters Day!