Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: The Truth Commission

Publish May 1, 2015

Fans of bestselling author Susan Juby are in for a literary treat with her latest YA novel, The Truth Commission. Nanaimo, B.C.,high school junior, Normandy Pale, and her two best friends, Dawn Weintraub-Lee (Dusk) and Neil Sutton, are on a self-appointed search for truth at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. Labelling themselves “The Truth Commission,” and living in what Dusk describes “an age of unparalleled falseness,” they decide to cut through the gossip and ask someone at school the real story on a specific aspect of their life each week, bringing “some much-needed truth into this world of lies.” As the months unfold, they soon discover their “destiny” is full of what Normandy calls “easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.” Unlike Neil and Dusk, Normandy isn’t entirely comfortable with the endeavour at first. She feels the truth can be dangerous. And people have their right to privacy, especially her older sister, Keira, the creator of a wildly bestselling graphic novel series whose characters mockingly resemble her own family. But Keira has left college and retuned home in near silence, under secret circumstances even her parents aren’t privy to. In a bid to uncover her sister’s bizarre existence, Normandy recruits a cast of truth-telling characters from school, finally discovering the shocking reality about her sister and realizing that the truth, often messy, changes everything. Written as Normandy’s narrative non-fiction assignment, this irreverent, absorbing, and empathetic journey of self-discovery is presented in an original creative journal format, complete with chatty footnotes, black-and-white illustrations, and quirky, often reflective, chapter titles such as “My Life Is an Issue in My Life” and “Willing the World Right Side Up.” Part romance, part family drama, part mystery, The Truth Commission is all heart, filled with the kind of witty, cerebral observation that leaves you fulfilled yet wistful, wishing it didn’t have to end (despite it being a satisfyingly realistic one). It also leaves you wondering what Norm, Neil, Dusk, and company, so cleverly drawn and impossibly likeable, are up to right now.

The Truth Commission

Susan Juby
Razorbill, Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 13: 978-067-006-759-6

Jennifer D. Foster
Jennifer D. Foster Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor, mentor, and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. She loves kidlit, greyhounds, Japan, pumpkin pie and yard sales.  

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