The relationship between Nana, the supercritical grandmother, and Lizzie who lies to bolster her self-confidence has enough gritty tension to put this one long step ahead of the brand of nutshell realism the title evokes. Certainly Lizzie's lies are creative enough to get attention--there's a school assembly, with herself in the dancing lead, which she invents for the benefit of her parents. Later, when Lizzie and her friend Sara get in trouble for tying each other up with Mother's clothesline, Lizzie covers up her embarrassment and scares Sara half to death with a gory tale that casts Nana in the role of a cat-killing lunatic. On the other hand, Lizzie isn't a good enough liar to fool the reader, and her ploys are so transparent, so obviously doomed to failure, that one is never seriously tempted to identify with her. Lizzie's honest anger and feisty rebellion are sympathetic. . . but can only be experienced from the outside.