Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Mark is just a regular kid. A regular kid who has lived most of his life battling cancer. Recently, he was told the cancer he thought was in remission has come back with a vengeance. So in a startling move of foolishness and bravery, Mark runs away from home with the money he's saved, a camera, a notebook, and his dog. His plan is to climb Mount Rainier to honor his grandfather who never had the chance to climb it with him. Along the way Mark meets many physical and emotional obstacles, relies on the kindness of strangers, and hopes that his best friend back home doesn't reveal his secret to the adults who are searching desperately for him.

Dan Gemeinhart's debut novel is a spare, allegorical quest -- a contemporary yet timeless middle-grade hero's journey. It is emotional, universal, and heart-wrenching. Despite the primary audience of this novel being for upper-elementary and middle school students, it also reads much older than that. I would not hesitate to put this in the hands of high school students as well.

I really enjoyed every aspect of this novel: from the loyal dog companion to the first person/third person narration swap between chapters to show how the story unfolds back home while Mark seeks enlightenment on his odyssey. The Honest Truth will undoubtedly be put in the pantheon of other great children's literature hero and survival stories such as Hatchet, A Wrinkle in Time, heck, even From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Essentially what I'm saying is that even though this novel is only a few months old, we already have a children's classic on our hands.

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Published: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 229
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Finished copy acquired at ALA Midwinter, provided by Scholastic 

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  1. I'm still irritated by the number of depressing books out there. Yes, Mark has some gumption, but it's still more of a downer. Scholastic did a survey that said most middle grade readers want humorous books, so I am still wondering why so many sad ones are being published. Well written, certainly, but SO sad. And I felt worse for the dog than I did for Mark by the end!

  2. What a glowing recommendation! I just borrowed this book from the library, and really looking forward to reading it soon.