Today, we're proud to join the Rockstars Book Tours blog tour for Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins.
We're sharing our thoughts on this contemporary retelling of The Canterbury Tales and an excellent giveaway for this intriguing book. Read on for more!
Author: Kim Zarins
Pub. Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads
Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind:
-Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
-He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
-He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey.
-And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC.
But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class.
But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind—can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say.
In her debut novel, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in a fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together.
But when I heard about Sometimes We Tell the Truth, the fact that it was: 1) a roadtrip book, and 2) written by a local-esque author - *waves at Kim who is up the street* - made me want to read the book. So I requested it, and was promptly blown away.
Zarins centers the book around Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, with the book now taking place as a contemporary road trip to DC. Jeff is ready to suffer through the trip, when a genius stroke of idea leads the entire bus to tell stories to pass the time. Whomever tells the best story, will get an "A" in the class.
What transpires are tales that are funny, ridiculously inventive, occasionally raunchy and all-around entertaining. Though my knowledge of Chaucer's characters are only a vague and distant memory - Lemony Snicket characters ended up superseding most of the room in my brain at the time - Zarins has converted her tales in such a way that will flick on a light in your head, and make you recognize her characters and the tales that they share - especially for students of literature.
As the book progresses, Zarins smartly intermixes dashes and dabs of everything that a contemporary reader will recognize from their day-to-day life: from zombies to political scandals, to even a fanfiction segue to one of our favorite schools for magical education. There's a certain intelligence in how Zarins has chosen to convert Chaucer's stories for a modern audience, and readers will undoubtedly appreciate her care and approach.
However, what particuarly struck me about ... Truth was the thoughtful and genuine approach that Zarins has taken to sexuality and gender roles. Because intermixed in the raunchiness, is a thoughtful, underlying dialogue on relationships and the truths about life and love.
(I realize that sounds vague; I don't want to give too much away. But suffice it to say, I was delighted by certain revelations.)
While I'm not entirely sure whether Chaucer really intended his stories to serve as a roadmap of the heart and the mind for the everyman, I do think that feeling is something Zarins has definitely achieved with her book. So much so, that yes - I will go back and read the original Canterbury Tales, because I'm curious as to how they compare with Zarins and her retelling.
Finally, Zarins adds a helpful author's note in the book that explains her source material and how she made the corresponding characters transitions from Chaucer's original text to ...Truth. It's a brief note, but definitely enhances the overall impact of the retelling and her work.
But Kim Zarins proves that assumption to be absolutely incorrect, with a modern adaptation that will amuse, thrill and genuinely move readers of any age. As Jeff and his classmates traverse to DC, and revelations about their lives are uncovered, readers will fall in love with the characters and their journey.
Highly recommend, full stop.
Check out the rest of the tour!
8/30/2016- A Gingerly Review- Review
8/31/2016- Twinning for Books- Guest Post
9/1/2016- The Petite Book Blogger- Review
9/2/2016- BookCatPin- Guest Post
9/6/2016- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post
9/7/2016- The Reading Nook Reviews- Review <- Hello! *Waves merrily*
9/8/2016- Literary Meanderings- Guest Post
9/9/2016- Eli to the nth- Review
About the author:
Kim Zarins has a PhD in English from Cornell University and teaches medieval literature and children’s literature at Sacramento State University. Her debut novel, Sometimes We Tell the Truth, retells Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with modern teens, and she wrote it with a gigantic smile on her face (there are funny bits). She also published two picture books for very young children. When she isn’t reading or writing or teaching, she is feeding peanuts to a very hungry scrub jay named Joe.
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