The Honest Truth

240p. Scholastic. Jan. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545665735; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545665766.
Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Mark wants to climb a mountain before his imminent death from cancer, so he runs away to Mt. Rainier with only his faithful dog, Beau, to accompany him. In alternating chapters, Mark's best friend Jessie, at home, narrates her moral dilemma: should she honor his last request or reveal his location to the worried adults who would deny him his wish? As each event befalls Mark along his journey, Beau increasingly proves himself, while Jessie vacillates. Gemeinhart, a first-time author, keeps the pace with short, active chapters leading to a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, ending. Descriptions of place and character are good, the Northwest Washington setting palpable, and Mark's continuous descriptions of headaches and nausea, if a bit repetitive, can be chalked up to realism. The actions of the adult characters along the way are slightly less believable but suspension of disbelief is possible with such a compelling premise and Mark's ringing sense of confidence. Recommended for general purchase and for classroom structured reading. This will be especially interesting to capable but reluctant readers, particularly dog lovers.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
When twelve-year-old Mark learns his cancer has returned, he runs away to climb Mount Rainier with his dog, Beau; the trip could be a chance to fulfill a dying wish or it could be a suicide mission. Mark's journey across Washington state unfolds dramatically to a harrowing climax, but the characters' tendency to philosophize can be grating at times.

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