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.
*Review copy provided by Scholastic Canada. This in no way affects my opinion or review*
I almost cried. Almost. I rarely cry during books, but this book kind of took my heart and stomped all over it. When I picked it up, I didn’t know it would be so heart-wrenching. This isn’t a story of cancer, or dying. No. This is a story of hope, and survival, and living. Mark is an eleven (ten?) year old boy with cancer, who knows that he probably isn’t going to live much longer. Instead of crying about it, he decides that if he is going to die, he is not going to die in the hospital, surrounded by doctors.
He’s going to climb a mountain.
Mark is a unique character. I had moments when I doubted him, when I wanted him to just return home, but at the end of the day…I was rooting for him. Sure, he could be rash and I shook my head at some of his decisions, but I did want him to succeed. I wanted him to win. That’s the truth (See what I did here? I’m hilarious).
This is a short read, and written quite simplistically. This is the author’s story to tell, but I do wish it could have been a bit longer. I felt like I was only getting a glimpse at the bigger picture, and there were so many elements of the story that I wanted to learn more about. For example, Mark’s friendship with Jess.
They’re neighbours, and have been best friends for years. I do love girl-boy friendships, and I liked how this was a central part of the story. Bits of the story were actually narrated by Jess, which allowed the reader to learn more about what the world thought about the young boy who had run away. These small scenes were the ones that made me the saddest, actually. because these were the scenes that showed how much Mark’s parents and friends were hurting because of his disappearance. I don’t think this story would have been nearly as effective without them.
So yes. You could say this book was good. I wouldn’t say it is one my favorite reads, but I did like it. A lot. 4 stars!
About The Author:
Dan Gemeinhart lives in a small town smack dab in the middle of Washington state with his wife and three young daughters. He’s lucky and grateful to be a teacher-librarian in an elementary school, where he gets to share awesome books with awesome kids. He loves camping, cooking and traveling. He also plays guitar (badly) and reads (constantly). His house is always a mess. He is really pretty darn happy.