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Book Review: Tell Me Everything

Tell Me Everything by Sarah Enni

Published February 2019

Genre(s): YA, contemporary

288 pages

“’Never forget: Life begets art. To create your best work, you have to have something to art about.’”



Ivy is basically invisible to everyone except her best friend, Harold. When Sophomore year starts up, Harold becomes busy leaving Ivy no one to go to, so she turns her attention to VEIL, a new anonymous art-sharing app.

Piece by piece, Ivy figures out the identities of some of the anonymous posters, and instead of contributing her art to the app, she begins to create art specifically to give as gifts to the others. But the app is anonymous for a reason. When Ivy’s acts of kindness get her in trouble, will she try to make it right, or risk losing everything?

“Truth is, someone’s always going to be ready to criticize my art. Anyone’s art. Some people have nothing better to do than tear others down for trying. We can’t let that keep us from taking chances. Because I love my work and it makes me happy.”

My Thoughts

I picked this book up awhile back secondhand. I hadn’t ever heard of it or the author, but I was very intrigued by the cover, and when I saw it was about an artist, I only wanted to read it more.

Oh man, was this book painful to read or what. There were good and bad pains. Many of them.

Now to the book:

When I started, I was a little disappointed. Things started off rather slow, and I had no interest in what was going on. Plus our main character came off as extremely childish, despite being a high school sophomore, so I didn’t like her.

Then we got to the science fair.

Ivy talks about her experience with science fair. The paralyzing at the infinite amount of topics, being ignored because your’s was bad, and being an outcast in your family because everyone else is smart and important. And you just want to do art, but you don’t want to show anyone because you don’t believe in yourself, but you also just don’t want to. While our art differs (mine is writing and drawing, her’s is photography), it physically hurts to see a character talk about these things.

This is when I finally got into the book and started to understand Ivy. When it came down to it, I realized I could relate to her a lot. We’re both shy and awkward with few friends and a preference for anonymity.

And then somewhere further along, I just lost interest. There’s an anonymous VEIL app. The entire plot is what happens on VEIL, Ivy’s feelings towards VEIL, and everyone else’s reaction to VEIL. And while the concept was interesting, the realistic feature of VEIL just wasn’t there for me. Maybe it’s because I know how social media works, and I don’t believe VEIL, nor the story we’re presented, is ever something that could be realistic.

Then there’s Ivy’s actions. The first couple of goodwill acts were good-natured and well-perceived. Then there’s the rest. No. Just…no. This is when I started disliking Ivy. Again. Except way more.

Let’s not forget the romance in this book. It, as well as Ivy’s feelings, was ridiculous. We don’t need romance in every YA story. I promise. There are many of us out here who don’t even date until we’re at least in college. This book did not need romance. At all.

I must confess, I didn’t see where this book was going. The entire book is based around anonymity with art. And I loved that. Not everyone likes to “be out there” physically. Some people enjoy doing things without the entire world knowing. Some people like being anonymous, and I thought this book was going to talk about that. I truly wanted a book that addresses that. Nope. That idea gets turn on it’s head by the end of the book, basically saying that anonymity in art is a bad thing. And that made me really mad. And it’s rare I get mad at books.

If the romance and turned-around theme wasn’t bad enough, the ending was. It was completely unfulfilling. It was choppy and rushed and nothing happened in a way it should have.

I’ve dropped the rating of this book so many times. But I’ll keep it at 2-stars because first off, I did enjoy the writing style, and there were a lot of good quotes. Second off, I adored Nate, and everything revolving around him I felt was done well. Third, I appreciated the conversations about photography and what constitutes as “art”, as well as the conversation Ivy had with her parents about her photography.

If you’re looking for a fairly clean, short contemporary about an artist, then I’d say give this book a shot. It does have some good quotes and messages spread through it, and many people might find the writing more enjoyable. Personally, I just couldn’t handle Ivy or the situations enough to enjoy it.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Tell Me Everything

  1. As an anonymizing technology fan, I must ask how was VEIL supposed to be anonymous, what was its reason for existence, and why you don’t think it would have worked in reality.

    There are lots of authors posting stories, without disclosing their identities to the public, both in the regular Internet and in darknets. I think darknets are very cool because they allow you to write about stuff that is not socially acceptable – for example, writing a dystopia story that throws darts against the current government, when you live in a country where you could get in trouble for such. I wonder how does the book make anonymous posting look bad?

    I must be the weird kid in the block because I never really understood the desire to create art pieces and keep them secret. I am very open with most stuff I produce, and I think it is quite a boost to attach a piece of art to your identity and let it be known it is yours. Creating content is nice, but until I have it read by somebody I don’t feel like I have achieved anything. Even if the piece is trashed… at least the piece was important enough for somebody to care and trash it hahahaha.

    Heck, I ever make the programs and scripts I make available, and they are not up to industry standards by any means 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So…trying to be non-spoilery. VEIL is a phone app created to share art…either in picture or writing form. No information is collected on the users, and anything that gets posted that could tell signs of their identity (locations, names, etc) is automatically blacked out by the app to help secure anonymity. A certain day (once a week, I think?), the app is wiped clean, making anything previously posted inaccessible. However, the app is limited to a certain space range. I forget the exact area, but one could only view things posted so far out from their own location.

      And then comes the main “plot point” in the book: Something offensive gets posted on the app and people react in two ways: “this app needs to be destroyed” or “everyone should have freedom of speech” and, well, you can probably guess how things go from there.

      The reason I don’t think it would work: there’s absolutely no way to protect your identity online. People will find a way around it. Be it hacking, or simply like our main character does, where she goes out of her ways to find clues about who people on the app are. Yes, there will always be people who use the app for its intended purpose, but there will also always be those who don’t. Not to mention, it’s a good way for artwork theft. If an app was ever created in a similar way to VEIL, I would see the exact same ending coming. Except probably quicker.

      The book itself basically gives the message that being anonymous with your art is wrong and does more harm than good and says you’re a coward, and if you’re doing your art anonymously then you shouldn’t be doing art at all, and just really overall negative things.

      Personally, I’m not exactly secretive with my work. I just don’t feel the need to be “validated”. I write and draw for me and personal satisfaction, not for other people, so I don’t care if others see it, I post my fanfiction online for other people, so I see no reason why I should be, or need to be, associated with it in name or face. Even my friends IRL didn’t know. But there’s nothing wrong with people wanting to be associated with their work either. We all see art in different ways.


  2. Anonymity protection that only works at local level sounds weak to me. If you analyze modern anonymity solutions nowadays, they attempt to be global tools. They want to have a big mass of users in order to make it hard to distinguish them from each other.

    Snowden’s revelations make it clear that modern anonymity systems are hard to break even by agencies sponsored by nation-states, or at least they were at the time of the revelations. The amount of resources poured into trying to break these things is astounding and the success ratio is piss poor. So… if you can trust technology to protect your identity from CNI, I bet you can trust it to protect the identity of your art from your neighbors…

    There are ways to distribute information anonymously without forfeiting ownership of it. I’d expect an art-sharing program to attach a digital signature to the piece of art distributed, that sort of thing. But I am nitpicking at this point.

    The discussion between destroying anonymity enabling programs and letting them be is so old as to be boring already. Most of the time it comes from fearmongers who think most darknet traffic is evil (hint, most darknet traffic I am aware of is nerds exchanging code or complaining about their boss).

    I think it is rude for the book to imply you are a coward and no artist if you don’t attach your identity to your art. I mean, you should be proud of your art and put your name in everything you create, but you should not be shunned for not doing it XD

    Relatedly: if somebody had the guts to attach his name to this freaking thing, so can everybody else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This assumes I trust technology on any level…which honestly, I’m skeptical of most things. One thing this book did touch on though was in terms of “stealing” art and what actually is considered “stealing”. Our main character uses other people’s art to create her own art, so it’s a topic that’s (lightly) referenced to, at least in terms of photography.

      I just had several issues with this book overall. it was a pleasant read in some regards, but there was just too much in it I questioned.

      I’m just…I’ll just leave that fanfiction alone- I no longer question anything related anymore. haha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The necessity to use stuff created by others has been the warhorse of the anti-copyright crowd for long. There is this argument that if you intend to make a painting of a banana, you should find God and pay Him royalties for using his intellectual property – the design of the banana.

        Also, that fanfiction is awesome. It is a goldmine of oneliners. XD

        Liked by 1 person

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