Books for Teens: The Truth Commission

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The Truth Commission
Razorbill / Penguin Random House Canada
By Ruth Symes, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
192 pages
age 13-18

Synopsis from Peguin Random House Canada:

Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear. They are the Truth Commission.

But Normandy’s passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. The truth can be dangerous, especially when it involves her sister, Keira, her brilliant older sister, the creator of a best-selling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence. Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed …

Holding onto a lie can eat at you, feeling like a knot in your stomach. Sometimes coming clean can feel like a release so I can understand the origins behind the Truth Commission. But admitting our own truths is very different than confronting others. It’s like the express “Do as I say not as a do”. It’s always easier to look outwards. The Truth Commission touches on this topic of secrets we keep and connections we make over shared secrets. Even as the reader you’ll find yourself playing the role of advice giver and judger.

The story also deals with sibling rivalry where Normandy’s sister is deemed a prodigy making it hard for Normandy herself to see her potential. This rivalry leads to a twisted family relationship and surprising outcome between the two sisters. Even in an environment like an art school where many believe differences are accepted, even encouraged, there still exists secrets and self doubt.

The story is also told in almost a diary form with Normandy writing a creative nonfiction as part of her Spring Special Project for school. At first it reads more like a school project, with Normandy using footnotes significantly in the first few chapters to give extra details but also as a way of dialog between her and her teacher reviewing the work. Thee footnotes are used less frequently as is the dialog with the teacher making you forget at moments that this is suppose to be a school assignment. I don’t think this takes away from the story though.

The Truth Commission will appeal to those transitioning into high school, navigating relationships, boundaries and secrets. It also touches on family dynamics and how they play a part in the actions we take.

Additional Reading: The Vindico.

You can find a copy of The Truth Commission from Penguin Random House Canada or your local bookstore. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations.

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