Sue Divin

Sue Divin’s debut Guard You Heart was a bit of a sensation, garnering all kinds of Book Prize Nominations. I loved it so much that it shared my Favourite Novel of 2022 with Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s astonishing Thin Places. 

Truth Be Told was a tricky follow up. Could she do it again so quickly? Well, yes she can… and then some! The debut novel takes a lifetime and then you have to write the second in a short time. Few can manage that shift in time resource.

Divin doesn’t only deal with it, she exceeds the time limitation. Truth Be Told is better than Guard Your Heart in almost every way. It is even better written. The plot is even more fascinating. I found myself feverishly page turning to see whether it could be true and was then even more surprised by what the true ended up being. 

Like Sue’s debut the whole thing is held together by a freak meeting. In Guard Your Heart it was a moment in Derry where Protestants beat up a Catholic boy. In Truth Be Told it is two girls at a Peace Camp looking absolutely identical and all the intrigue that follows from such a mad coincidence.

Of course Divin has placed the girls perfectly that this might unravel in as an unlikely a zillion to one chance as their coming together. Tara’s from a nationalist family in Derry and Faith was brought up in rural Armagh in an evangelical church family. 

My criticism of Divin’s work is that it is branded Young Adult when I think it should be read by every adult on the island. The advantage of the Young Adult placement does mean that Sue is inhabiting youth culture to such an extent that she can pry inside for us.

Tara and Faith reveal the issues that all our teens have to face - image, sense of belonging, purpose of existing, social media, television and of course the legacy that their parents have left them in Northern Ireland. That Faith is gay and working out how to tell a family so involved in Church adds to the depth of the study.

No spoilers but plot unfolds in the difficulties that Tara and Faith have to deal with in their own souls, their weird relationship and in their families and communities. There are revelations within that we all need to take stock of. 


James Simpson

Dighted to read this terrific and well deserved review...Sue should also be recognised as a generous colleague and a super-encourager of emerging writers. Her unpaid facilitation of This Writing Thing is highly valued and flawless...rumour has it that she's working on the next one...why am I not surprised!!

David Dunlop

I look forward to this one...sounds right up my cul-de-sac!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)