Monday, April 25, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – THE HONEST TRUTH

A loyal dog, a survival trip and an emotional, heart-wrenching story of a kid with cancer all in one! I knew I’d love this one!

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 was written by Dan Gemeinhart and published by Scholastic in 2015.

My Take:

I really enjoyed this book. Mark has a pretty good plan to run away, with some false leads for searchers and a good idea for hiding his dog. It seems like he’s thought of everything, until…well, I won’t say what happens, but something messes up his plans and getting to the mountain turns out to be harder than he expected.  I loved the way Mark didn’t shy away from facing what was likely to happen with his cancer, but at the same time, wanted to be seen as a kid, not a kid-with-cancer. This action in this story moves along quickly

From a writer’s perspective, I liked the authentic details about the wilderness that the author embedded in the story. They helped to create a strong sense of place. Though it wasn’t always clear how much time was passing. 

Opening Line (which in this novel is the last line, too):

“The mountain was calling me. I had to run away. I had to.”


“But when you take a picture, that one moment isn’t gone. You caught it. It’s yours. And you get to keep it.”

“Across far, dark miles a friend can still hold your hand and be there with you.”

“It was weird how something could look so close and so far away at the same time. Like I could reach out and touch it, but I could walk all day and night and never get there.”

Other Info:

The Honest Truth is Dan Gemeinhart’s first published novel.  

Dan Gemeinhart did an entertaining Q & A video to give readers more insight into his book. I especially like what he said about dogs: “Stories are more fun, especially adventure stories, if you’ve got a great dog there with your main character.”


  1. Cancer is a hard topic to tackle in middle grade books. Sounds like the author did a good balance of having this part of the story without having it be the main focus. Glad you liked it so much.

  2. I read this one after reading too many other sad books. Had trouble finishing it and went on a humorous reading binge for several weeks.

  3. I read this one too, and found it awfully sad. Well-written, just a little too sad for me.


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