The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne

The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne
Age Range
Release Date
October 31, 2023
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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.

Editor review

1 review
The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne
(Updated: June 12, 2023)
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What worked: Enchanting tale filled with a touch of humor set in 1987. What I really enjoyed about this story had to be its unique twist on the premise, 'what would you change about your life' if you had a magical notebook? In this tale, Gracie finds a notebook in her grandmother's house and writes down a passage only to find it come to life the next day. Only not in the way she expected.

This book is set in 1987. I'm real picky on that time period as I remember it all too well. Takaoka weaves in some of the trivia but not to the point that it's overkill. The story could very well take place in the present time.

Good pacing with relatable characters with a touch of humor makes for one engrossing tale!

Gracie's antics are humorous at times and very reliable. When she's uprooted from her home and best friend to move into the house of her grandmother, who is dealing with Alzheimer's, Grace struggles with how she'll fit in. My own grandfather had Alzheimer's, which is a terrible disease, and I could totally relate what Grace and her family were going through.

There's many scenes that are hilarious. The one where she cuts seventh period to be with the hot kid and what happens afterward is totally funny. The cute boy next door who is a math nerd is someone you can't but hope he'll hook up with Grace. The scene of Katherine, her grandmother, taking off and the fear that Grace feels is something my own family had to go through when my grandfather became lost.

With the magical notebook there also are consequences. Some of those have Grace questioning her choices and if what is happening in her life is because of the randomness of life or the book.

Engaging, magical with a big dose of heartfelt humor, this novel wins with its unique twist on the possibility of turning fictional tales into reality.
Good Points
1. Magical tale with its own twist on 'what would you change about your life'
2. Engaging
3. 1987
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