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Hannigan, Katherine. True (... Sort Of). Greenwillow, 2011. 359p. ISBN 978-0-06-196873-0 $16.99 R Gr. 4-6.

A troublemaker since the age of six, eleven-year-old Delly Pattison is still making mischief, but she's begun to realize that most people in her life, even her own parents, have written her off as a lost cause. One fight too many brings Delly to the principal's office and her stoic mother to tears, and Delly finally decides it's time to make a change: no more trouble, even if it bores her numb. Needing something to focus on besides her anger, Delly becomes attached to Ferris Boyd, a mute and socially outcast girl whose quiet stillness offers Delly's often chaotic energy a reprieve. Parallel to the story of the developing relationship between the two girls is that of Brud Kinney, a stuttering boy who also becomes fascinated with Ferris because of her reticence and her mad basketball skills. Underlying both tales is Ferris herself, her muteness, and the implications of its origins in abuse, a suspicion that is eventually confirmed when Delly sees the welts across Ferris' back. Hannigan walks a delicate line between heartfelt earnestness and overdone schmaltz, straying into the latter only a handful of times. Like the eponymous star of Ida B . . . (BCCB 11/04), Delly is an immensely likable protagonist; her gruff exterior is tempered by an emotional vulnerability that is conveyed with both consideration and honesty. Despite being a secondary character, Ferris is also credibly developed, and her silence is nearly palpable in its strength; the blindness to her abuse, not only in the surrounding adults but also in Delly and Brud, creates an opportunity for a candid exploration of the dangers of ignorance. Compassionate and powerful, this is sure to be a discussion-starter in book clubs. [End Page 521]



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