Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Realistic Fiction

Mark has cancer.  He has had it since he was a little boy, and he and his parents have been fighting it as hard as they possibly can.  There are good years and bad years, and it has been good for a while.  But now the cancer is back.  And he is tired of fighting.  All he wants to do is control SOMETHING in his life for once.  So he sets off on an adventure with his faithful dog, Beau.  They are going to climb Mount Ranier . . . by themselves . . . in a snowstorm . . . even if it kills him before the cancer can.

What I Liked
There are two perspectives in this book.  Most of the time, we are listening to Mark narrate his way through this journey.  We hear his thoughts on the people around him and we learn to understand his fears along the way.  But every other chapter is narrated by his best friend.  She is worried about Mark and is struggling with whether or not to tell his parents where he is.  Throughout the book, we are brought into each character's inner struggle with the truth.

The writing in the book is pretty great, too.  Mark has a notebook that he writes in every now and then.  He writes everything in a haiku.  While this sounds really cheesy, I'm here to tell you that it really works.  Something so simple can say so much.

This book is not so much an adventure novel as much as a novel about how people learn to get through tough times by depending on others.  However, the intensity was the same.  I found myself compelled to read the next chapter even when I really needed to get up and cook dinner for my family or something!

Quintessential Quote
In the middle of the book, Jessie knows where Mark is, but she is trying to honor her best friend's last wish by letting him climb that mountain alone.  Mark's parents have included her in the search for their son, and she has to watch them cry and worry and hope for the safe return of their boy.  She hates this.  At one point, they find blood in a bathroom and know that it belongs to Mark.  Jessie's decision to stay quiet begins to gnaw at her.

"Should she bring him back, and save him?  Or save him, and let him go?

It wasn't fair.  To be so sad and so confused at the same time.  She had too much to decide and too much to feel.  She was lost.

What should a friend do?
How to help, when helping and
hurting are the same?"

I love this quote!  Saying she was lost parallels the fact that Mark is also lost - but in a different way.  This feeling of being lost comes through for the parents as well.  They are lost without their son.  Jessie is lost without her best friend.  Mark is lost without the guarantee that he will live to grow up. The haiku at the end of the quote is a terrific example of how it only takes a few words to make a simple point.  Helping our friends sometimes takes on a different meaning than we ever thought possible.  

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