Gracie feels like a minor character in her own life story—until a mysterious journal turns her fictional stories into reality.
It’s 1987, and sixteen-year-old Gracie Byrne wishes her life were totally different. Shy and awkward, she has trouble fitting in at her new school, she’s still reeling from her parents’ divorce, and her grandmother Katherine’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse. So when Gracie finds a blank journal in Katherine’s vanity drawer, she begins writing stories about herself—a more popular version of herself, that is. But then the hot guy in her art class describes a dream he had about her—the exact scene she wrote about him in her journal—and Gracie realizes that she can create any reality she wants, from acing tests to winning the attention of her previously indifferent classmates. As her ability to change what is into what she wishes it to be grows stronger, though, Gracie starts to second-guess what’s real—especially when it comes to a budding relationship with her cute neighbor, Tom. This compelling story deftly blends friendship, family, and romance . . . and bends the bounds of reality itself.
About the Author
Shannon Takaoka is the author of the young adult novel Everything I Thought I Knew,which was a 2021 Kansas National Education Association Reading Circle Recommended Title and a 2022 TAYSHAS Reading List Selection. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family, where she also works as a business writer and editor.
Takaoka skillfully portrays teen interactions, as well as the messiness and love of family members caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease. She grounds readers in Gracie’s 1987 world, from an immersive midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Orange Juliuses at the local mall, landline phones, and Aqua Net. . . . A warmhearted story that will resonate with anyone who has ever dreamed of reinventing themselves. —Kirkus Reviews
A 16-year-old realizes that she can alter reality via her journal in this pensive tale by Takaoka. . . Immersive prose effectively conveys the push and pull between honoring one’s self and pursuing one’s desires. Via moments of young love and old loss, and themes of coming back to oneself, Takaoka delivers a moving and emotionally satisfying read. —Publishers Weekly
In Shannon Takaoka’s charming novel The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne, a struggling girl finds a magical journal that lets her rewrite her own life. . . . The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne is a delightful coming-of-age novel in which an unhappy girl learns to appreciate the ups and downs of life. —Foreword Reviews