"If I really wanted to open up, I'd confess that I really am the liar everyone believes I am."
High-school junior Tola Riley has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she's crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and lets her hang out in the art room during lonely lunch periods.
But then rumors start flying and Tola is suddenly the center of a scandal. The whole town is judging her—even her family. When Mr. Mymer is suspended for what everyone thinks is an affair, she has no choice but to break her silence. Fairy tales won't help her this time . . . so how can she tell the truth? And, more importantly, will anyone believe her?
Tola insists that nothing happened with her art teacher, but nobody seems to believe the high school junior, from her mother (who insists Mr. Mymer "took advantage of my daughter, a vulnerable young girl") to the vicious readers of a gossip blog called "The Truth About Tola Riley." Their collective disbelief leaves Tola wondering, "Am I so small, so insignificant that my own story doesn't need me anymore?" Readers will feel like Tola is hiding something, however, and will quickly become engrossed in piecing together what really happened. Ruby (Play Me) parcels out her story slowly, as Tola documents her relationship with Mr. Mymer, who has been suspended from teaching, as well as her family's mounting problems. To fill in details, chapters end with "comments" from other characters, from her mostly absent father to a former friend who uses the Web to spread pain. Readers will likely find the fairy tales Tola is obsessed with to be a clunky device, especially as the book reaches its conclusion; otherwise this is a creatively constructed story with a modern-day scandal layered on top of more traditional teen troubles. Ages 12 up.