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The Book of One Hundred Truths Paperback – March 11, 2008
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As usual, 12-year-old Thea is spending part of her summer at her grandparents' house at the Jersey shore, but this year, she is going with a secret. Her parents, who know something is wrong, but not what, give her a notebook in which she can write "truths." In Jersey, things have undergone disappointing changes. All of her cousins are living at her grandparents' house, and Thea is stuck taking care of her seven-year-old cousin, Jocelyn, a bright little snooper whose eczema is spreading. Schumacher tries to intertwine two stories here: the disclosure of an almost tragic event that has turned Thea into a liar, and Jocelyn's determination to discover another secret that is floating around the summer house. In the end, both of the revelations are something of a letdown, but the process of discovery (bit by bit, information is dispensed in the 100-truths notebook) and Schumacher's strong characterizations keep the story going. Jocelyn is particularly well done; she's a tightly controlled child, and readers will respond to her fortitude, as does Thea. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Issues of secrets and lies will resonate with young readers. . . . A compelling novel.”–The Bulletin
“Strong characterizations. . . . Readers will respond to [Jocelyn’s] fortitude.”–Booklist
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So when Thea heads off to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Grumman for a few weeks during the summer, Mom hands Thea a notebook in which she's to write 100 truths. Mom tells her, "'You never know what you might discover. You might learn something new...You might find out something new about who you are.''
Granda and Nenna Grumman's house is different this summer, however. It's packed with many grandchildren this time and Thea is not used to sharing. Moreover, she's expected to babysit, a job, she tells her grandparents and her aunts, she's not allowed to do. (Not true.) The relatives relent at first, but Thea can't help but notice she's left most days with her 7-year-old cousin, Jocelyn.
Jocelyn is one of those irritating/touching children. She makes her own bed, reads like a pro, is far too precocious for her own good, and wears white gloves as much for their aesthetic appeal as for their use in covering her eczema.
Jocelyn is sure "the aunts" are up to something and she coaxes, pleads, and begs Thea into helping her spy on them. Jocelyn is also fascinated by Thea's notebook, and the only way Thea can keep her cousin away from the book is by helping her spy.
Over the course of Thea's three-week stay, Thea writes her 100 truths, develops a fondness and an empathy for her odd cousin, and comes to terms with what was behind the lies. (No spoilers here, but let me just say that it involves an accident those of us who live in the North most fear.)
"The Book of One Hundred Truths" is a thought-provoking novel for the upper Middle Grade, or tween, reader. What impressed me most about this book is how its author, Julie Schumacher, portrays Thea, her narrator and protagonist. Thea is completely believable--her lies are so transparent, so troubling, yet completely motivated. Thea is an ordinary child to whom an ordinary, mundane accident occurs. She copes in the only way she knows how. Often, in Middle Grade or Young Adult fiction, the heroes are smart--smarter than their calendar age would suggest. Thea is a twelve year old and reacts like one.
The Book of One Hundred Truths is best suited for the ten-to fourteen-year-old reader and is highly recommended.
Lies come easy to Thea, rolling off of her tongue as smooth as butter. She doesn't mean to lie . . . or at least she doesn't lie to be mean. You see, something happened to Thea not too long ago, something she swore never to tell anyone else about - and she learned that in order to keep something a secret, you sometimes have to lie.
Every summer, Thea (short for Theodora Elizabeth) heads off to her grandmother's house and enjoys a few fairly quiet weeks at the beach. She's old enough to travel without her parents, but not without their reminders. This year, her mother presses a notebook into her daughter's hands and asks her to write down one hundred truths before her trip is over.
Thea figures out that she has to take note of four or five truths a day. That doesn't sound too bad. She thinks about things on the plane trip, then on the ride from the airport to her grandma's house while her two aunts have a fairly typical argument, figuring she'll have plenty of time to fill up her notebook while spending lazy days on the Jersey Shore by herself.
"Are you ready to face the crowd?"
When Thea arrives at her grandparents' home, she is surprised to see a dozen relatives residing there. Her grandma, Nenna, is as bubbly as ever; her grandad, Grenda, is suffering from Alzheimer's, notably quieter and slower-moving than before. There are the two arguing aunts, Ellen and Celia, who appear to be keeping some sort of secret from the rest of the family. There's her other aunt and her baby, plus four more cousins, two teenage boys who are busy with summer jobs, and two younger cousins who want to hang out with Thea.
She has to share the attic room with one of those little cousins, the bright seven-year-old Jocelyn. Naturally curious and compulsively tidy, her constant presence starts to stress out her put-upon baby-sitter, Thea. Jocelyn's own stress manifests itself in a skin rash called eczema. As the two girls spend more time together and try to figure out what their aunts are hiding, Thea begins to suspect that her cousin might be keeping a secret too.
"Most people think there are only two kinds of lies: little white lies and all the others. But that isn't true. Lies come in a lot of different colors."
According to Thea, there are also blue lies (those which completely obvious) and pink lies (exaggerative) and green lies (inventive) and more. But the color of lie doesn't reflect its size nor its weight. When the truth - rather, truths - come out, Thea realizes how much the lies were weighing her down.
As she did with her previous books for young readers, Julie Schumacher has delivered a solid story for young readers. If you enjoyed THE BOOK OF ONE HUNDRED TRUTHS, make sure to pick up GRASS ANGEL and THE CHAIN LETTER. All of Schumacher's books resonate with kids, especially middle schoolers who are questioning everyone and everything around them.