Friday, March 06, 2015

The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart

Dying of cancer, twelve year-old Mark runs away from home with his dog Beau.  Mark is angry and desperate.  What is the point of living, he wonders, if we all die (some sooner than others)?  But before his time comes, he plans to fulfill his grandfather's wish that he climb Mount Rainier.  And while he experiences many set-backs in his quest, he finds that even strangers can be friends and that there is much that makes life worth living.

A simple story and a lightning-fast read, this book focuses on the trip and dwells surprisingly little on Mark's emotional journey.  That isn't exactly Gemeinhart's plan and a number of carefully set-up elements of the story seem to remain undeveloped.  The key wasted element of the story is Mark's best friend Jess, who mostly sits on the sidelines and stresses about her sick friend in alternating chapters that add little to the story.  Sensitive readers are forewarned that the climax features a particularly chilling scene of animal endangerment.

[Disclosure:  I received a solicited reviewer's copy of the book without charge and without any promise beyond providing an unbiased review.  I will donate the book to my local public library.]

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