Review: Nothing But the Truth by Avi
Avi. Nothing But the Truth: a documentary novel. New York, Orchard Books, 1991.
I found this book to be fairly dated, although the events that took place could easily have happened today. The use of payphones and telegrams severely dates the book.
Published Review: from School Library Journal
Ninth grader Philip Malloy finds himself unable to participate on the track team because of his failing grade in English. Convinced the teacher, Margaret Narwin, dislikes him, he concocts a scheme to get transferred from her homeroom: instead of standing “at respectful, silent attention” during the national anthem, Philip hums. Throughout the ensuing disciplinary problems at school, his parents take his side, ignore the fact that he is breaking a school rule, and concentrate on issues of patriotism. The conflict between Philip and his school escalates, and he quickly finds the situation out of his control; local community leaders, as well as the national news media, become involved. At this point, the novel surges forward to a heartbreaking, but totally believable, conclusion. Avi carefully sets forth the events in the story, advancing the plot through conversations between students, Philip’s parents, school personnel, and community politicians, while Philip’s point of view is revealed through his diary entries, and Margaret Narwin’s through letters to her sister. Also enriching the narrative are copies of school memos and newspaper articles, transcripts of speeches delivered, and copies of letters received by both Philip and his teacher; each document provides another perspective on the conflict and illuminates the many themes that beg to be discussed–most notably the irony of lives destroyed because of the misuse of power and the failure of people to communicate. Admirably well crafted and thought provoking. –Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc
Related Book: Lyga, Barry. Hero-Type. New York: Houghton, 2008. Found in Booklist. Both stories deal with a teenager who is hailed as a hero for patriotism in uncertain circumstances. Both stories deal with America’s hyper-obsession with patriotic appearances and how ‘patriotism’ can be horribly misused.