Being TrueRating: 5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Truman Cobbler is a pro at new schools and dodging bullies. When Tru’s mother moves them to the barrio of San Antonio after his stepfather bleeds them dry, Tru is forced to complete his senior year at a new school. Fitting in has never been his thing, but he may have found his niche in journalism with Claudia. Making friends has never been easy for him—Tru is awkward, funny-looking, and small—but this time he’s determined to tough it out so they won’t have to change schools again and so maybe his mom won’t have to worry so much. Except that on the first day he also runs face first into Rance’s fists and feet. Lucky for Tru, Coach Moore interrupted the beating before the damage was too bad.

Running home to an empty apartment doesn’t sound appealing, so Tru takes off riding on his bike where he ends up being chased by some guy calling his name. Racing the train—because surely if he can get to the other side of the tracks, he’ll be home free—he makes it across only to hit a rock and land face first on the road. But then his life changes. Where Tru thought he was running from a bully, he was actually running from Javi Castillo—the most popular and nicest boy in school. When Javi invites Tru to his house for dinner, Tru isn’t sure it’s a real invitation, but it turns out to be the beginning of a wonderful friendship, the first friendship Tru has ever had. And for the first time in as long as he can remember, he’s not that afraid to walk through the halls of any school.

When the kids at school notice that Tru is hanging out with Javi, suddenly people are nicer to him—all except Rance, who more or less scowls at him or ignores him completely—and Tru isn’t sure how to handle it. Javi is the most beautiful boy Tru has ever seen, inside and out, but Tru refuses to ruin their friendship by bringing in his attraction. Not that he’s told anyone by Claudia that he’s gay—and only because she guessed. As the guys grow closer, rumors spread and lines are drawn in the proverbial sand, all while Tru and Javi struggle to find themselves in the midst of peer pressure and hormones.

You guys, this book is so good. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of YA/young love, but I have been known to dabble here and there, and I’m so glad I picked this one up. Being True—the meaning of this book lies completely in the title. I love the double meaning because it’s about being Tru (Truman), who is the main point of focus of this book. And it’s about being true to one’s self—to your beliefs, to your love, to your families, to your friends. It’s a story of two young men who walk the path laid out before them until they meet. This book is their journey. It’s Tru finding power and confidence in himself in a way he never thought existed. And it’s Javi learning something about himself he never saw coming and remaining strong, if not stronger. This plot holds a beautiful coming of age story in which two boy from two different worlds find each other then find themselves in one another. This story is simply the beauty of friendship and how it cultivates strength and confidence. It’s the power of love against the ugliness of bullying. It’s captivating and lovely all around. It’s heartwarming and eye opening. It is empowering.

Truman Cobbler is the kid that pulls my heartstrings. I mean no kid should have to endure what this little guy goes through on a daily basis, yet in the real world, we all know this is reality and a horrible problem. When we meet Tru he is literally getting his ass kicked—a common occurrence in his life, though this time is a bit different. Truman Cobbler, though he does not see it himself, is one of the strongest boys to walk the halls of BHS. The things he walks though and how he handles them every single day—the kid is brave. Confident, no. But strong and brave, yes.

Javi Castillo is your average popular jock, except he has a heart of gold. The kid loves everybody and everybody loves him back. The author, while writing this entire story from Tru’s POV, does a fabulous job of showing readers who Javi really is. And you can’t help but love the kid. Here’s a kid who has pretty much everything going for him—most popular, baseball star, cute, nice—yet underneath it something is missing and not even he knows it until Tru is part of his life. Javi, while the more confident of the two, has lessons to learn of his own. He’s used to being the protector and the keeper, but his journey in this story is also about learning to lean on someone else. I absolutely adore these guys.

So this story, you guys, I’m not sure I have enough words to tell you how truly fantastic it is. First, the platform of bullying is one that hits home for a lot of us for different reasons, and Flores addresses it in a very realistic and frightful manner at times. Because that’s exactly that it is. The strong emotions that accompany being bullied are well portrayed here are flow off the page. I felt Tru’s fear and anguish. I felt his hopelessness and tears. For the hours that I read this book, I walked in that kid’s shoes. That’s what this author did for me. On the flipside, I also felt his growth and maturation, the confidence he gained because of the friendships he held with both Javi and Claudia, and the light at the end of the tunnel when he realized that high school was not the be all and end all.

This story has more to it than bullying, though. Ultimately it’s a romance, or it wouldn’t be part of Dreamspinner, right? But there are so many layers to that romance. It’s the journey through that darkness and into a friendship that neither of them expected. [spoiler] I love the moment of realization for Javi that his world is about to change forever.  It’s wrought with confusion and fear.  His questioning whether he is or isn’t gay, the push and pull with Tru at that time when Tru is afraid he’ll lose Javi forever—it’s such a lovely pivotal moment in this book, so full of emotion. [/spoiler] This author adds realism into the fantasy of the romance—the family that grounds these guys, the so-called friends that turn their backs on them, and the real friends who stand beside them no matter what. I’m telling you. This story, from beginning to end is absolutely fantastic.

Being True is one of those books that I couldn’t put down once I picked up, and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a young love book. In the end, Flores had me wishing for redemption for the antagonist of the story. I was in tears. Do you hear me? Well…read me?? In tears. This story is an emotional journey that is so far beyond the spectrum of what I was hoping for. I am beyond pleased with this story and hope that there will be more to come from Javi and Tru in the future. I highly, highly recommend Being True by Jacob Z. Flores.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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