In this 1997 novel by Paula Boock, Dare, Truth, or Promise explores the lives of two New Zealand teenage girls, and their budding romance.
Louise “Louie” Angelo is a confident girl preparing to become a lawyer. She meets Willa, a quiet new girl at her school who wants to be a chef. From the beginning, Louie is fascinated by Willa, who is reeling from a painful breakup with a girl that almost cost her everything. The girls become good friends, and Willa finds herself falling in love again. Soon, Louie’s admiration turns to love, and the two become lovers. But when Louie’s uptight mother finds out, a rough road is in store for both Louie and Willa. They must confront old demons and their own fears of homosexuality in order to be together.
Dare, Truth, or Promise is an easy read, told from both Louie and Willa’s perspectives, and the characters are realistic. It’s interesting how the two leads, Louie and Willa, are so opposite. Louie is from a rich family, lives in a big house, and is in a practicing Catholic family. Willa, on the other hand, is living in a pub her widowed mother owns, and is an atheist. Still, the girls have an undeniable love, and really care for each other. Other characters are interesting, such as Susi, Louie’s mother, who suspects her daughter’s relationship from the beginning. Other characters include Mo, Louie’s best friend at their all-girls school, Cathy, Willa’s ex-girlfriend, and of course, Willa’s adorable dog, Judas.
The fears the girls have over their relationship is very real. Louie worries that she is a sinner, while Willa worries of having her heart broken again. For a while, things are tense as Louie and Willa try to sort their emotions out, as well as gain acceptance from their families, friends, and religious groups. There are even a couple of nail biting moments that really drew me in.
This book, which takes place in New Zealand, has a glossary of words for the grammar and slang used in the story. And though tense at times, Dare, Truth, or Promise has really funny moments, such as the dog’s antics, or the banter between Louie and her brother and sister. And the moments where Louie and Willa are together, whether watching airplanes take off, or swimming in Louie’s Jacuzzi, add to the story. They have their disagreements; neither of them is perfect. But that accurately reflects all couples, be they gay or straight.
Though it’s a relatively short novel, (170 pages), it packs a punch and is very entertaining. Dare, Truth, or Promise is an exciting addition to teen lesbian literature.