Scholastic Press (January 27, 2015) 240 pages
The debut of a phenomenal new middle-grade talent.My Rating: 3/5 stars
In all the ways that matter, 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 in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. 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.
The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.
My review is full of spoilers. Due to wanting to warn parents about certain areas, it's really unavoidable.
Grab some tissues before you settle in with this one! The main character, Mark, has cancer. He's just discovered that the cancer has came back, and he's sad and angry, and he makes some horrible decisions. He runs away from home, so that he can climb Mount Rainier. The Honest Truth is the story of a boy and his little dog, Beau. Beau might just be the best dog there ever was! This is truly a beautiful book, in certain aspects, but I'm torn. I appreciate what was happening within it, but as a parent, I just had so many issues with it. Please understand the huge impact and influence that books/movies have on children. I can say that from experience!
Mark's goal to climb Mount Rainier is a suicide mission. He doesn't plan to return. His friend, Jessie, knows this, but she doesn't tell anyone. Mark is her best friend, and she wants to keep his secret. I don't want any child to ever think that's a secret they need to keep. This book makes the vow of secrecy blurry, in my opinion, and while I'm not saying that it will teach a child to keep such a secret, it MAY. Therefore, I'm a little concerned about it. Knowing someone is planning a suicide is *never* a secret to keep. Period. Also, the whole "I can do this alone" was a big factor. It's okay to depend on people, especially those that love you! There would have been nothing wrong or less special about the whole mission if Mark had got his dad to come with him, and made it NOT a suicide mission.
There's also an adult within this story that knows Mark has run away from home, and that he's sick, and that he's about to head up a mountain in the middle of a horrible snow storm, with nothing but a backpack and a little dog. He just drives his truck away, leaving Mark to finish his mission. Even if the man struggled with the decision, he made the wrong choice. As a parent, I would have a hard time forgiving such a decision if it was my child in such danger(or any child for that matter!!). I understand that a little boy was on a mission and he wanted to prove something, but there was some very stupid decisions made in this book, and Mark's life was put on the line *many* times, along with his precious little dog's. Beau deserved better. Ultimately, it was due to Beau that Mark lives.
Don't get me wrong! I flew through this book. I enjoyed it, and I cried, and I cheered Mark on, in a "go home" kind of way, but not so much a "keep going" kind of way. I could never, ever cheer a child to commit suicide. This just wasn't a mission that should have been attempted alone. I appreciate the whole "determination" factor, but I say put that determination to better use!
I understand Mark was working through anger, and he wasn't sure how to handle it, but for the targeted age group, I don't think this book is the best idea. For adults? Absolutely! I wasn't sick as a child, so I don't know how accurate the feelings expressed were, but I imagine they were realistic. Mark is sad and angry and determined. He just forgets or doesn't care who he hurts along the way. It doesn't matter how sick someone is, it's not okay to forget loved ones. For adults, it will absolutely pull on heartstrings, and the love of a little dog will pull the tears out of you.
So, overall, I don't recommend it for the target age group, but absolutely for adults. Just be prepared to be a little angry about some of the decisions made.
*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.
The Honest Truth