I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I said I wanted to read more books I usually don’t read this year so I decided to request The Truth About Leaving from NetGalley. To be honest, I haven’t read a lot of YA Contemporaries since I was 14 and hooked on Sarah Dessen books. The last one I read was Tash Hearts Tolstoy. This one was pretty different in some ways from those books however, and similar in others.
First, it starts off with a senior in what seems like a posh high school. Lucy’s boyfriend just dumped her and her college plans hasn’t been panning out the way she hoped it would. Plus, a new boy from Israel recently transferred to their school which was something unheard off.
I’ll be honest, I cringed a lot at the start. Dov was the new kid who was either struggling to fit in or wasn’t even bothering. Meanwhile, Lucy just basically inserts himself into his life and barely a day or a few after meeting him asks inappropriate, insensitive, and frankly offensive questions. Why would you ask if terrorism and violence are part of his everyday life? For that matter, why would you ask if his brother died in combat? It struck me as inappropriate as she barely knows the guy and it just didn’t seem right for her to do that.
Lucy strikes me as a mixed-bag as a character. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it makes her more realistic to have both good qualities and flaws. However, it did strike me as a bit odd how it seemed like she moved on so quickly from her ex who she described as the boy she’s loved her entire life.
One thing that peeved me a lot about her character was her rudeness to her parents. I absolutely hate it when I see it in YA Contemporaries. Sure, some parents are toxic but Lucy’s didn’t strike me as being that way. They’re parents concerned about their daughter. Also, does being 18 somehow magically grant you the license to do whatever you want? I’m 19, about to graduate from college and go to law school but I still have to do what my parents tell me to.
However, I did appreciate her character growth. She has a personality and a life separate from Dov and appreciate that. She likes dancing- ballet to be specific and pursues it. She gets to know what she wants and was able to adapt to changes in her life and make decisions accordingly. I did find her decision-making somewhat hasty but given the circumstances, I suppose I can understand it.
Dov really struck me as being kind of a manic pixie dream guy. He’s not that bad as love interests go but he was really a bit of a manic pixie dream guy in the beginning. He exchanges poems with Lucy then runs hot and cold then it turns out he has a sad, tragic backstory which explains it. The whole song and dance kind of made me roll my eyes a bit. But I do like how he encourages Lucy to follow her dreams and do the things she like. He even encouraged her to dance again which was a pretty good thing.
The plot was really standard YA Contemporary stuff. Boy meets girl, they fall in love but there’s trials and drama and angst along the way. The angst here involves Dov going back to Israel for military service and whatever I may feel about compulsory military service, it was kind of annoying how Lucy can’t seem to understand it at first. She does come around to it and they resolve the conflict. For the most part though, what really made this book shine for me was the inclusion of the Hebrew language and Jewish traditions. Both Lucy and Dov are Jewish and while I can’t speak for the Jewish rep, I enjoyed the parts where it was described. I also liked that Dov speaks Hebrew here because I am a fan of different languages.
Overall, the book was okay. It’s a nice quick read and there may be a lot to appreciate. I did dock a star for the angsty teen stuff and ultimately gave it a 3 because it’s really just mostly okay for me. If you’re a fan of YA Contemporaries and looking for Jewish rep, this may be for you.