Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Nothing but the Truth

Nothing But The Truth Avi

Lest we think that "books in stuff" is a new narrative technique, let's turn to a classic-- one I read when *I* was a tween.

Phillip is a high school freshman whose English grads are keeping him off the track team. Phil's convinced it's because his English teacher hates him. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact he doesn't try and disrupts class all the time. Trying to get transferred out of her homeroom, Phil hums along with the morning announcements playing of The National Anthem. Unfortunately, the rules state that students must stand as "silent and respectful attention" and so he's sent to the office. Given a pattern of behavior it escalates quickly. When his next door neighbor finds out, he uses it as part of his local election campaign and it quickly spirals into a national issue and no one's lives will be the same.

Told in memos, script-style dialogue, journal entries, speeches, newspaper articles, letters, phone messages, etc. The reader gets to see many sides of this story and draw their own conclusions about what really happened and who was at fault. Because of the documentary format, we also have much more information that any of the characters. We know why they do what they do, but we also know why their read of the situation is so incorrect. (And when it comes to why Phil's failing English, we get his teacher's true feelings on him, but also his answers to test questions.) Avi does a wonderful job of showing us the situtation through Phil's eyes (both in his journal entries and conversations with friends) but also how other people see the situation (conversations teachers have, the teacher's letters to her sister) but also some completely unbiased evidence (the test answer in question.)

I really liked this book when I first read it (when it first came out in 1991) and love it even more as an adult. (Partly because of life experience, partly because of the way politics and the news works today, it's just become more and more believable.)

It's heartbreaking and Phil is so infuriating (not as much as his father though. UGH HIS DAD.) This is a perfect book discussion book because there's so much there and so much in real life to tie it into.

There's a reason why it was a Newbery Honor. THere's a reason why it's still in print and still assigned reading in many schools.

Book Provided by... my local library for this rereading, but originally my parents bought it for me as part of my book order. Mmmmm... book order. I really miss book order. I can't wait until the Kung Fu Princess gets her book orders... They still do book orders, right?!

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Kelly TheWellReadRedhead said...

Thanks for this review! I have never heard of this book before, believe it or not. Have to add it to the TBR pile.

(And yes, they still do book orders...my son is only 15 mos old, and we already get the Scholastic flyer every month in his daycare mailbox!)

Jennie said...

I have to get the Kung Fu Princess into your daycare! She's 16 months!