By Susan Juby
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
First up, I will state the obvious – this is not a mystery story. While mysteries are my favorite genre, I do venture outside the norm occasionally and experience something else. That being said, the non-mysteries I find myself attracted to typically have some kind of mystery element going on within their pages. The Truth Commission is one of these.
The book started out a bit slow. Normandy is setting the scene. It turns out the novel in your hands is a piece of “creative nonfiction” that Normandy is writing as a project for her junior year of high school. In the beginning there were a lot of footnotes, which I found distracting. The YA reader (to whom this book is geared towards) may not. Besides the amount of footnotes – which do lessen as the chapters go on – I liked the perspective of the book and the way the story is told through her project.
Normandy and her two best friends (Neil and Dusk) form the Truth Commission, whose mission is to ask someone a question and get an honest answer. Now when they begin to ask questions my first thought was, this is going to be a book about gossip, people get hurt, lessons learned, etc., etc., etc. Then I hit upon the following:
“We’re not gossiping,” I said. “Asking people the truth is a spiritual practice.”
Mr. Thomas’s broad face became serious. “I must have got that wrong. I thought that spiritual practice involved asking yourself the truth.”
And at this point, the novel changes. Normandy has got some hard questions to ask herself about the truths going on in her life. The main piece of that involves her sister, who has mysteriously returned home from college with a secret that she’s not sharing with anyone. Except for those bits and pieces she tosses out on evening visits to Normandy. Who knows something really bad is going on. (Armchair detectives, cue the mystery music! Dun, dun, dun.)
Once Normandy turns the questions and the truth discovery onto herself, things really start to get interesting. As Oscar Wilde says in one of my favorite plays The Importance of Being Earnest, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” As Normandy begins to peel the onion away to get to her sister’s truth, she discovers how accurate Mr. Wilde’s statement is.
This was a fun young adult novel with interesting characters. Not everything ties up neatly into a bow at the end, which felt right.
Thanks to the First to Read program for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The quote in this post comes from the copy I received, which was uncorrected text.