Thursday, January 14

The Honest Truth

The Honest Truth
Dan Gemeinhart

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0545665735
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: January 27, 2015
Age: Grades 4 - 8
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes: cancer, death, friendship, family, truth, mountaineering

Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day. But Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from. So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier—even if it's the last thing he ever does.

I'm going to sound hypocritical here (since I often complain about how depressing the critically acclaimed middle-grade novels are), but this book had (spoiler alert!) too happy of an ending. Yeah, I know. But I didn't find it realistic at all. Also, he might have said "And that's the honest truth" a bit too many times. Became a tad annoying.

But hey, those are small complaints (I can't be that mad there's a happy ending!). There's a lot I did like. The story starts off running, diving into the action before you're even sure what's going on. And it doesn't stop, making it perfectly hard to put down. It's emotional and heart-wrenching, thanks to some excellent writing. I also love that it's told in alternating POVs—the anger and desperation of Mark, and then his family/friend's reaction. It kept the story balanced. Mark himself? Pretty awesome character, full of the depressed determination one might expect from a kid with cancer. Everybody else? Well, you hardly get to know anyone else, so it's hard to say. It's Mark's book, though, so I guess that's okay.

In the end, I'd still recommend it, especially to those who prefer the happy ending (no matter how implausible). Great readalike for All the Answers (cancer, family relationships) or Lost in the Sun (anger, death, friendship).

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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