TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE by Leila Cobo
“There is a picture of my mother. She is kneeling in front of a bed of roses in the garden of our Los Angeles home, one hand holding a huge straw hat against an obvious gust of wind, the other clutching weeds and roots she’s just dug up from the moist soil. Her long, curly hair is blowing around her face, and she’s smiling and she looks beautiful and impossibly happy.
I had that picture in my bedroom, and it was my favorite for many years, before I learned that my mother hated gardening. That every plant she ever touched died. That the beautiful day in that beautiful garden was a fluke. That at the time the picture was taken, she was probably already thinking of another life, another place, far from me, far from us.”
Review by Bonnie Brody (OCT 15, 2009)
Leila Cobo’s debut novel, Tell Me Something True, is an utterly wonderful and riveting book that had me in its clutches from the first page. It is lyrical and sensual with no word out of place. The character development is perfect, deep and meaningful, bringing the reader into the heart of the protagonists and their lives. In a sense, this novel sang to me in its poignant story of great loves.
The story is about Gabriella, a young woman who is half American and half Colombian. She was orphaned at four years old when her mother died in a plane crash. Every year Gabriella goes to Cali, where her mother is from, to spend a month with her grandparents. She has always believed that her mother and father led an idyllic and perfect life until she finds her mother’s diary in Cali – - and then she realizes that what she thought was true is a lie.
The diary talks about a tumultuous affair that Helena, her mother, had when Gabriella was four. Helena was in Cali for two months working on a photography book that had been commissioned by the governor. She met a man who she fell in love with and Gabriella questions whether Helena would have abandoned her and her father for her lover. The diary consumes her as she reads page after page of sensual and loin tingling descriptions of their affair. Gabriella is puzzled and angry about her family’s secrets, of being led to think something was true that was not.
At the same time that Gabriella finds the diary, she meets a young man. Angel, with whom she falls in love. Gabriella and Angel are both rich and are part of high society but Angel has a darkness about him and is not accepted by the old money that Gabriella is associated with. Angel’s father is the foremost drug lord of Cali and is currently in jail. Everywhere that Angel goes, he is accompanied by a cotillion of armed guards. Gabriella is swept off her feet and their love affair is as sensually and sexily described as any literary depiction I’ve every read. Now Gabriella is at a crossroads. Is she drawn to Angel because of her anger and puzzlement about her mother’s actions or is she truly in love with this man for who he is, despite his family?
The book gives a very detailed and clear portrayal of Colombian culture and lifestyles. Having been to Colombia, I can say with some experience that the descriptions of armed bodyguards, cotillions of soldiered cars, the danger, the frenetic and joyful lifestyle, the parties, the fear and the celebrations all ring true.
The book is structured in chapters alternating Gabriella’s experiences with pages from Helena’s diary. The story flows beautifully in this manner as both women’s lives are juxtaposed on one another. We feel the joy, the pain, the heat, and the quandaries that each woman experiences. We feel at one with them. I am not one who usually cries when I read books, but this book brought tears to my eyes – - of joy and of pain. It is a wonderful book and I look forward with anticipation to Ms. Cobo’s next novel.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 4 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Grand Central Publishing (October 1, 2009)|
|AMAZON PAGE:||Tell Me Something True|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Leila Cobo|
|EXTRAS:||Reading Guide and Excerpt|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||More books with the idea of Lying:
Lying on the Couch by Irvin D. Yalom
Two Truths and a Lie by Katrina Kittle
Yo by Julia Alvarez
Certainty by Madeleine Thien
- Tell Me Something True (October 2009)