Nothing but the Truth, and a Few White Lies | Justina Chen Headley

Half-Taiwanese, half-white Patty Ho feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere—until she goes to math camp and makes some important discoveries.


• A YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, 2008

• “Great voice from a very promising debut.” Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006

• “Headley makes an impressive debut with this witty, intimate novel.” Publishers Weekly starred review, April 10, 2006

• “Patty’s contemporary, immediate thoughts about finding direction and relating to family have universal resonance, while her specific struggles will speak directly to biracial teens.” Booklist review, June 1, 2006


When a fortune-telling granny sees a white guy in Patty’s future, her overbearing Taiwanese mama has a few ideas for reversing the prediction: Patty will eat stinky tonic soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Patty will attend math camp this summer. Patty will meet a Nice (Taiwanese) Boy.

Never mind that Patty is half white herself. But Mama considers marrying Patty’s dad the one mistake she ever made, and she’ll do anything to keep her daughter from repeating it. So as Patty’s white girlfriends look forward to a summer of fun, she heads off to Stanford for what is sure to be a month of torturous Asian geekery.

To her surprise, some of the kids at math camp are actually cool, and she might even have a chance with Chinese hunk Stu. Things are looking up for this banana-split girl—but in order to feel truly whole, she’ll have to learn the truth about herself and her family.

This is, first and foremost, a novel about the search for identity. Patty doesn’t remember her father, but with her long legs and big eyes, sometimes she feels like she has more in common with him than her Mama and older brother. And that’s hard to reconcile with the jerks at school who call her “Chopsticks.”

Despite some painful moments, the story is carried by Patty’s humor and insight. (On Chinese foot-binding practices, she thinks: “Chastity belts for feet. If you can’t walk, you’re not likely to sneak out in the middle of the night, say to kiss a secret lover in the Quad.”) Any girl struggling to figure out who she really is will find the real deal in Nothing but the Truth.

Headley, Justina Chen. Nothing but the Truth, and a Few White Lies. New York: Little, Brown, 2006

Reviewed from library copy.


February 27, 2010. Tags: , , . Multicultural, Realistic.

One Comment

  1. Angela M replied:

    Found you on the Book Blogger Hop! Here’s where you can find my blog and contest.

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