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The Honest Truth
by Dan Gemeinhart

Author: Dan Gemeinhart
RRP: £6.99

Mark's cancer has come back, he thinks he is going to die at 12 years old. He can't remember the last time he was happy, where he was pain and guilt-free, somewhere around 5 years old is about right.

Mark runs away with his dog Beau, fooling police and his parents to look elsewhere as he strives to achieve his goal of climbing Mt Rainier, which he knows will kill him.

We follow Mark's heart-wrenching journey, which he documents in haiku and by taking pictures on an old-fashioned camera. He gets lost, mugged, nearly drowns, becomes even sicker but somehow makes it to the mountain against all odds. Between chapters we get flashbacks and the thoughts of Mark's best friend Jessie, who has worked out where he has gone and struggles with the secret as she sees how Mark's disappearance is impacting on his parents, and knowing that this is Mark's dream, but will be the death of him.

The book made me shed a tear on more than one occasion! Mark's guts and determination are nothing short of incredible and both his and Jessie's struggles are wrought with emotion that you just cannot help but empathsise with. To add some light to the darkness of the book is Mark's relationship with his dog Beau, who accompanies Mark when he runs away.

The Honest Truth is honestly beautifully written. It's raw and powerful, evoking strong emotions and once I picked it up I read it from cover to cover in an hour. It literally absorbs you. It seems strange to say it's a book that I enjoyed reading, but I did. It's the book equivalent of Pandora's Box, as when everything else is gone, there at the end, is hope.

I'll leave with you with a quote from the book, which is how the clever ending begins ... "I didn't feel alone on the mountain anymore. Not at all. I could feel them crowded all around me. I had thought I could do it alone. But I couldn't. And I didn't want to. There's no such thing as alone."

Highly recommended for readers aged 13+

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