One Speck of Truth

288p. HarperCollins/Harper. Mar. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062672667.
Gr 4 Up—For as long as she can remember, 12-year-old Alma has been preoccupied with finding out the truth about her father. Since Alma's mom just keeps telling her to "be a good girl and stop asking questions," the only thing she knows for sure is that her dad is buried in a local graveyard. To make matters worse, Alma's supportive stepdad walks out one day with no explanation. Desperate to understand her family and broken over the loss of both fathers, Alma becomes obsessed with locating her birth dad's grave. When Alma's mom forces a sudden move to Lisbon, Alma isn't sure whether to feel excited to finally meet her dad's Portuguese relatives or distrustful of her mom, who has become distracted and even more secretive. Told in short chapters alternating between Alma's memories of the past and her anxious present, this well-written, emotionally evocative novel captures Alma's longing for answers and her fear that she is a weird, bad child for needing them so much. This internal struggle bleeds onto the pages as readers vicariously experience Alma's fierce search for clarity, her conflicted relationship with her mother, and her struggle with learning to speak truth herself.
VERDICT Strongly recommended for middle grade collections and for any reader who has tried to find truth in the complexities of the past.

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