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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Truth Commission
by Susan Juby
Illustrated by Trevor Cooer
309 pages
ISBN: 9780451468772

Praise for
The Truth Commission

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“With a deft hand and an open mind, Juby (the Alice trilogy) presents many layers of truth while evoking Normandy’s pain over being the subject of ridicule in her sister’s books. This is a sharp-edged portrait of a dysfunctional family with some thought-provoking ideas about what is real.”

Kirkus (starred review)
“Hilarious, deliciously provocative and slyly thought-provoking, Juby's welcome return is bound to ignite debate.”

Luann Toth, School Library Journal (starred review)
“The narrative/book is smart, darkly funny, sad, and heartening as Normandy learns some hard truths, how to stand up for herself, and how to take charge of her own destiny. While there is no reconciliation in sight, there’s no doubt that the truth has set her free. A surprising, witty, and compulsive read.”

Jaclyn Moriarty, author of “The Year of My Secret Assignments” and “A Corner of White”
“I absolutely loved The Truth Commission. Every page made me laugh aloud, while all the time the tears were creeping up on me. The characters were so real I wouldn’t be surprised if they knocked on my door right now. I hope they do; I want to spend more time with them.”
Susin Nielsen, author of “The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen” and “We Are All Made of Molecules”
“You know how we have terms like "Dickensian?" I vote that from here on in we should also have "Jubyesque," to describe something particularly funny, offbeat and original. The Truth Commission is Juby at her best - I wanted to be at that school with those unique, flawed and utterly believable kids. It is a fantastic and highly original novel. I heart Susan Juby.”

Kim Carter in VOYA
“Smart and witty, eclectic and engrossing, introspective and insightful, The Truth Commission is a creatively crafted treasure of a novel which will be deeply appreciated by readers who like their existentialism wrapped in practical reality.”

My Review:

Comic and irreverent, teen angst and teen art collide (I mean can you have one without the other?) in The Truth Commission. Younger sister Normandy Pale pales in comparison to her older, more talented, more artistic, and well known debut graphic novelist Keira. Teachers and students at Normanday's art school speak of Keira with hushed tones, reverence and awe in their voices. Keira sold her first graphic novel to a publishing house and made a fortune. When Keira comes home from her new school, Norm knows something is wrong, but is too afraid to ask. Their parents treat their oldest daughter as a reigning queen worshipping her every move and catering to  her every need.

Normandy is best friends with Dusk (whose real name is Dawn, but she prefers the darker version) and dapper dresser Neil. All three attend a prestigious and expensive school of arts  but Normandy is a scholarship student  since her older sister is  an art prodigy. The school probably is hoping the same holds true for Normandy. If you think high school is full of weird cliques, wait till you read about Green Pastures art school! There is a dragon (mean, pancho-wearing ostrich lover Mrs. Dekker in the front office, a kind counselor, and several strange artists (no surprise here) in residence.

The three kids decide that "the truth will set you free" and begin a campaign to have people tell their truths. It begins with Mrs. Dekker. Then the kids target a student that everyone has wondered about. He is a handsome loner whose movie star looks have everyone wondering whether he is gay or straight. The kids decide that they must find out or the sake of the truth.

Keira begins to spill the truth about what happened to her at school, but Normandy is afraid to hear the truth and she begins to investigate her sister on her own. Each student at school has a project to present at year's end and Normandy is presenting her work of creative non-fiction--which is what she is writing...and what readers are reading. I love the way the book works. Normandy slips in footnotes on nearly every page. I find that endearing and clever.

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature subject matter and some language.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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