I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
Published by Penguin on April 14th 2015
Genres: Family, Girls & Women, Humorous Stories, Siblings, Young Adult
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Open secrets are the heart of gossip -- the obvious things that no one is brave or tactless enough to ask. Except for Normandy Pale and her friends. They are juniors at a high school for artistsl, and have no fear. They are the Truth Commission. Then, one of their truth targets says to Normandy: “If you want to know about the truth, you might want to look a little closer to home.” This dryly funny, knife-sharp novel, written as "narrative nonfiction" by Normandy herself, features footnotes, illustrations and a combination mystery/love story that will capture readers from the frst page.From the Hardcover edition.
When I was an actual young adult read: high schooler I used to go to the library all the time. Also I had this weird obsession with reading books with main characters named Alice — thanks to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I borrowed Alice, I Think by Susan Juby from the library and after reading it and identifying with the main character because the book is told in journal entries, I immediately had to read everything else Juby had read. Alas, the struggle, as at the time, that was her debut and there was really nothing else by her to read. THE STRUGGLE YOU GUYS! THE STRUGGLE. So, okay to bring us to present day, I got the most awesome email about Susan Juby’s new book and yo, hook line and sinker I was totally in to read The Truth Commission. Also I sort of confirmed what I knew to be true all along — my young adult self had FANTASTIC taste in books and authors.
Normandy Pale is writing a creative non-fiction book for her Semester Project for Green Pastures Art School. Her book details what happened in a short span of time. It is filled with footnotes as well as a few sketches here and there. You see, Normandy and her best friends Dusk and Neil form a social movement called the Truth Commission based up the idea that the truth will set you free. Essentially they go up to people and ask them their truths. Normandy, however, struggles with this. When she finally plucks up the courage to ask someone their truth, they turn it back on Normandy and ask that she confront and tell her own truths.
You see, Normandy has a sister who is famous. Her sister is a graphic novelist and her series – the Diana Chronicles have pushed her into super stardom. Unfortunately, these comics do not portray Normandy and her parents in a flattering light. Normandy is portrayed as a dullard called Flanders. Her mother is sort of like Cersei from Game of Thrones and her father is a womanizer. Meanwhile Normandy’s sister Keira is portrayed as this wicked awesome character. Anyways, Keira is hard to live with and the family breathes a sigh of relief when she goes away to university. Unfortunately though, Keira has returned home all of a sudden and begins alluding to Normandy that she has undergone extreme trauma. Normandy, however, is not yet equipped to confront this truth.
What makes me love Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission so much is that she writes Normandy, Norm for short, in this way that I feel as though I know her. I feel as though she could be one of my friends that I would willingly text with on a regular basis. Normandy is really quite the artist in her medium of embroidery and also a decent writer, however, she does not feel that way because she is overshadowed by her sister’s fame. Also, the way her family tiptoes around Keira is quite ridiculous — to the point of hushed voices because Keira can’t handle noise when she is trying to create. Anyways, I loved that Normandy’s narration felt sort of tongue in cheek and just so real. Juby seriously has a talent for voice is what I am saying.
ALSO! Sidebar, the friendships in this book are FANTASTIC. Just know you will fall in love with Dusk and Neil and even Aimee and Brian and various other characters. Her friends are unique individuals and maybe a little bit weird, but they are who they are and as a reader, I found them endearing. Also? I just love books with friendships so I kind of really loved this book.
OH! And The Truth Commission is set in Canada so that’s kind of cool — I rarely read books with Canadian settings so I felt as though this was unique but not a super huge culture shock. For real though, I will end this review and straight up say you should read Juby’s The Truth Commission if you want a book with a well-written main character, an intriguing plot premise, and some dysfunctional family dynamics.