cancer

Review: The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

honesttruthThe beauty of working in children’s publishing is getting the opportunity to read some great young adult and middle grade novels.

(I highly recommend reading a middle grade novel when you’re looking for a nice escape and a book with limited time commitment.)

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart, released by Scholastic Press in January 2015, has been getting a lot of great reviews – and for a good reason. This novel tackles sensitive topics in a unique way, and the writing is really quite profound.

The novel is told in alternating first-person and third-person chapters, which I initially found jarring but ultimately embraced. It was a choice made for a reason, and I like when authors try something different.

The protagonist of The Honest Truth is twelve-year-old Mark. Mark is “normal” in that he likes writing haikus with his best friend, Jessica, and taking photographs with his grandfather’s camera. He has a loyal dog named Beau who has been through everything with him. But Mark is not normal in the fact that he is very sick. This sickness has disrupted his life for so long that he decides to run away. And so, Mark packs his backpack and sets off to climb a mountain, with Beau by his side. It’s his one goal, and the one thing he can control.

As a reader I had to suspend my disbelief as this young boy and his dog face challenges and meet all sorts of characters. Back at home, Mark’s parents are scared and heartbroken; Jessica, in her third-person narration, worries about responsibility. Is it her responsibility to tell Mark’s parents where he’s gone? Is it her responsibility to keep her best friend’s secret?

The Honest Truth is tastefully-done, and certainly brought a few tears to my eyes. One of my favorite relationships in the novel? The bond between Mark and Beau! I’m sure all pet owners will understand that unbreakable bond.

I think this is a great novel for middle grade readers because the characters are vivid and the novel’s format is engaging. The topics of pain, grief, responsibility, and friendship will hopefully spark discussion between friends and in the classroom.

Have you read The Honest Truth? What middle grade novels have stuck with you over the years?

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

John Green’s #TFIOS Hangout

As I write this post I’m currently watching John Green speak live about the movie version of his bestselling novel, The Fault in Our Stars, coming out in the US on June 6th. Green is an author who writes young adult novels, and he also has his own YouTube channel with his brother. His writing has really touched the literary community because, as he has said, he wants to write stories that people care about. His novels aren’t the fluffy type of YA fiction that explore the idea of thirteen-year-olds who strike gold as popstars. Instead, his novels ask questions like, “Can someone with a shortened lifespan live a full life?” (The Fault in Our Stars) and “How does the untimely death of a friend impact those left behind?” (Looking for Alaska).

Although Green is very active on social media, this is really my first time “interacting” with him. Green is funny, honest, and accessible. Throughout this hangout, Green is not only speaking about the upcoming movie or his novel, but also giving insight into his writing process and his creative vision. I must admit that while I wasn’t initially very excited about the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, because I felt that the book was so strong that a movie wasn’t necessary, the attitude that Green has about the whole making of the movie is definitely changing my mind. Green says that he dislikes movie adaptations that try to make stories more palatable for a wide range of potential watchers, and that The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation is not going to be like that. Green claims that when he saw the final cut of the movie he felt that “it is the most faithful adaptation of any book that he’s ever seen.” Honestly, after watching the full trailer for the movie, I am convinced that the movie will actually be very close to the original story presented in the novel.

Overall, watching #TFIOS Hangout put me farther into Green’s corner of the boxing ring. I was already set on watching the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars simply because I was totally moved and taken by the novel, but I had a lot of hangups about the casting of Hazel Grace and Gus and I was sure that I wouldn’t enjoy the movie as much as the book. However, I’m now looking forward to the movie with hopes that I may just enjoy it as much as the novel. Green says that “disease should not be seen as lesser than any other obstacle,” and that “life doesn’t have to be perfect for love to be extraordinary.” If that is the sentiment that is carried throughout the movie as well as it was built into each chapter of the book, I’m sure that this movie will do well at the box office.

What did all of you think about the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars? Do you plan to see the movie adaptation? Why or why not?

You can watch the #TFIOS Hangout in its entirety here!

Izzy Skovira cried in public while reading The Fault in Our Stars. Read more about her at izzyskovira.tumblr.com or connect @htothe_izzzo.