Secrets of Truth and Beauty is a multi-layered coming of age story of 17-year-old Dara Cohen. Once a junior pageant winner, Dara is now an overweight teen with some very deep-seeded self-loathing and dysfunctional parents. When an English assignment is misinterpreted, she is removed from school and forced to go to therapy. Striking out on her own, Dara tracks down the long lost sister she never had and spends the summer working with her on a goat cheese farm. During the summer, Dara makes a good friend; finds love; and self acceptance.
At first, Dara constantly insists that she is not constantly obsessing about her weight or hates her body. As we get deeper into Dara's inner conversations, the more it is revealed that the opposite is true. Her inner conversations with herself include put downs, insults, and isolating herself from things that she would like to do. A misconstrued comment from her newly acquired gay BFF about Mama Cass from the Mamas and the Papas acts as a catalyst for Dara to become the person she has been keeping hidden out of fear of being ridiculed for her weight.
This book is engaging, well written, and thoughtful. It has a high readability level. Once you're into the story, it is hard to put down.