Review: Dan Gemeinhart – The Honest Truth

The Honest Truth
Dan Gemeinhart
Mark lives a normal life. He’s got a great friend, a supportive family and a beloved dog. Except, it’s a as normal as someone who is sick all of the time can be normal. Mark knows he’s getting sicker, and maybe he won’t be able to climb any mountains before he dies.
The backstory on this is neatly woven into the text. I didn’t feel like any of it was a step back in time. The novel kept moving inescapably forwards, regardless of what the reader desired. The splits between the two perspectives didn’t feel false, and each break didn’t make me try and skip through the person I wasn’t interested in.
I guess the basis of this novel is the relationship between a man and his dog. A common theme, true, but this is a truly equal partnership, as shown by a couple of points in the novel. In this way, it makes it more relatable to kids who haven’t been so sick, but have owned a pet of their own which makes life so much better.
I’m not sure how I felt about the hiaku poems Mark writes. Sure, they’re neat in a way, but I don’t think it gave me any more insight into his personality. Cryptic notes are good and well,
This novel is either going to be one you are gripped with, or you can’t wait to get away from it. I came from the ‘gripped’ category, but a housemate said she wouldn’t touch it because ‘sob stories aren’t my thing’. I think it’s very unfair to call this novel a sob-story – it felt genuine and gritty and painful. I think what kept me reading was that fact that Mark’s future was really uncertain. His best friend understands what he needs, even if it kills her not to tell.
This is the first middle grade novel I’ve reviewed in a while, and I had to readjust my expectations. once that was done, I really enjoyed it. Maybe 4 stars for me – it’s in the region of novels such as ‘Bridge to Terabithia‘, that would be perfectly readable to its target audience and brings up some important questions to think about in life.

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