Welcome to my stop on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for Honest June by Tina Wells. I saw the illustrated cover and knew I had to read it! Then I read what it was about and I was even more intrigued! I’m always up for a bit of magic in my contemporary middle grades.
Thank you to Tina Wells and Random House Books for Young Readers for providing me with an ARC for this review.
Tina Wells is the founder of RLVNT Media, a multimedia content venture serving entrepreneurs, tweens, and culturists with authentic representation. Tina has been recognized by Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Essence’s 40 Under 40, Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Phenom, and more. She is the author of nine books, including the best-selling tween fiction series Mackenzie Blue, its 2020 spinoff series, The Zee Files, and the marketing handbook, Chasing Youth Culture and Getting It Right.
About The Book
Title: Honest June
Author: Tina Wells
Illustrator: Brittany Bond
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: December 28th, 2021
Page Length: 240
Genre: Fantasy | Contemporary
Age Range: Middle Grade
Rep: Black, Anxiety & Panic Attacks
For June Jackson, middle school is hard enough–but it’s even harder when a fairy godmother grants her the ability to only tell the truth ALL THE TIME! Is it a blessing… or a major curse? June’s charming story will inspire big laughs and even bigger love for a new heroine for our times.
June Jackson is an expert at exceeding people’s expectations. She can’t help it; she’s a people-pleaser! She’ll do everything she can to be the perfect student, daughter, and friend, even if it means ignoring her own feelings sometimes. Cue Victoria, June’s secret fairy godmother, who blesses June with the ability to never tell a lie in the hopes that June will finally be honest with her loved ones. Instead of telling them the truth to their faces, June turns to a secret online blog–the only place she can write out her true feelings without hurting people.
When all of her responsibilities start to pile on–field hockey, the school paper, family responsibility, her friends–June begins feeling so overwhelmed that sometimes it feels hard to breathe. Not to mention June is desperately trying to figure out how to overthrow the spell at the same time! When the pressures reach new heights, will Honest June finally be able to break free and tell whole truth and nothing but?
Content Warning: character experiences panic attacks on page
This was a cute read full of morals. It explores the idea of telling the truth and little white lies. I absolutely adored the illustrations done by Brittany Bond – even at the proof level (I can’t wait to see what they look like finished!). The overall message of telling the truth came across in the story, and could lead to great conversations between tween and parent. I also loved that Tina introduced a lot of social conflict tweens would experience: navigating lifelong friendships and new ones, “dating”, and deciding what you enjoy (not just what you’re parents enjoy). I do wish there was a little more magic in the world though, or more to it. One thing that threw me off from time to time was the dialogue. I found myself questioning June’s age – in one moment she will act closer to her age (Grade 6), but then she’ll talk more like a 18 year old. I also found June was over-reactive at times, claiming extremes (for example, getting a grade and believing disowning was mentioned many times). Really, I think I struggled with June’s likeability. I found she would complain about things that aren’t really problems, and with me having difficulties with June’s age, I found myself confused and less sympathetic.
Overall, I loved Tina’s writing and Brittany’s illustrations, but I found that not liking June as a character took away from my enjoyment. That being said, I recently learned that this will have a sequel and I’m curious to continue to see just how June grows in the end.
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