If I'm Being Honest by Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley | Book Review


High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.
You know, being yourself isn't permission to be a terrible person.

Title: If I'm Being Honest
Author: Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Goodreads rating: 4.02
Publication: April 23rd 2019 by Penguin
Source: Google Play Books
Reading format: E-book
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Review type: Non-spoilery

So I read Always Never Yours by the same authors in 2018 and it instantly became one of my favourite contemporary books so when this book came out, the excitement was an understatement. I got it as soon as it came out and started reading it and even from the first chapter, I could see that the main character wasn't supposed to be likeable because I totally hated her. At first, I thought that okay, there's no way this character has no depth right? There must be a reason she's being so mean to people. However, I hated her so much that I stopped reading the book altogether. In addition to my hatred, this book makes a lot of reference to Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and I know absolutely nothing about that play so I planned to read the play first before reading this book.

The plan was a failure. Fast forward to April 2020, I still haven't read the play or even the synopsis of the play and haven't touched the book ever since that last time. OWLs Readathon hosted by @book_roast changed that for me. For the Herbology Exam prompt, I was supposed to read a book with a title that starts with the letter 'I'. Suddenly, this book shone so brightly on my e-reader library and I picked it for my OWL readathon. No regret, because I love love love this book!

It's easy to misjudge this story as a whole just by reading the synopsis and the introduction to the character. A mean girl trying to change for the better is an okay premise but 'A mean girl trying to change for better FOR THE BOY THAT SHE LIKES' IS ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS. Reading this book, I saw that I was wrong to judge the story just by what it is described on the surface because this story is just so much more than just a mean girl trying to change to get the boy she likes. It was her trying to be kinder to people and in the process, simultaneously learning to be kinder to herself.

Cameron might be unlikeable at first but as I read her in the process of her 'taming' herself, I learned a few things from her too. Cameron wasn't perfect but she was persistent, intelligent and honest which are my favourite traits of her. She was brave, never beats around the bush and always gets straight to the point. Her unflinchingly honest personality might make her look like she was being mean on purpose but as soon as she learned to be more sensitive about how her words might affect people, that previously annoying trait became her best. I really didn't see how I could ever like her but I end up really liking her in the end.

The friendship aspect of this book was also really wonderful, I love seeing the formation of a new friendship between the main character and her former enemy-kind-of and predicting as well as seeing how this affects her previous existing friendship. It was interesting to see how her changes affect her relationship with those around her; not just her friends but also with her family. 

10 things i hate about you 2
More than others, I really appreciate Cameron's self-discovery journey on how significant forgiveness is in order to not just improve herself but also in mending the bonds between her and people around her which opens up a lot of many positive possibilities in her future. It wasn't just forgiveness from other people that was highlighted in the book, this book shows that having the courage to forgive the people who hurt you and forgiving yourself are just as important.
Forgiveness is the release that washes the poison from my veins, the anger and envy I could never get rid of no matter how often I apologized. It's impossibly, beautifully easy.
I love that this book, despite being a YA contemporary romance, didn't really focus heavily on the romance and focuses more on the character's growth. Talking about the romance aspect, I'm totally living for it! I was happy that it wasn't insta-love. It's more to enemy-friends-lover trope which I absolutely adore. I love how both Cameron and Brendan just love each other for who they are and push each other to chase their dreams despite the expectation from their family or their own self-doubt.  

Last but not least, the authors' take on Katherine was interesting. Katherine was initially introduced as a mean maiden who no one wants to marry because of her attitude which in the end 360° changed after she got married to this one man who claimed he abused her because he just wanted her to change, in the name of love.
Katherine’s not the villain of the play. It’s the people trying to change her.
I thought of giving this book 4 stars because of the problem I had when I first started reading it and what kind of contemporary romances get solid 5 stars, right, but this is my first really great YA contemporary read of the year and it does contain everything that I expect from a 5 stars YA contemporary book so I think it deserves those 5 stars.

You're gonna like this if you like: Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, non-insta-love trope, interesting family dynamic, new friendship, cute romance.


  1. I love the way you review this book by adding a few gifs in between paragraphs.
    This is my kind of book and I want own it so badly.
    I'm going to find it till I have it!

    1. you can get it in ebook form on google play books or buy from bookdepository.com!


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