The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Summary from Goodreads:
In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.
But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.
So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does.
The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.
This is the second book I’ve read by Dan and I looked forward to reading many more. He is somewhat of a local author, living over the mountains in Eastern Washington. I like that he sets his books in Washington, it is always fun to read about places I’ve been. This is a wonderful book about courage and friendship and doing what is right and about dying with dignity.
Mark is an interesting character, that I couldn’t help but like. Although I did find myself many times trying to understand why he was doing what he was doing. I found it incredibly hard to sympathize with some of his choices, until we got closer to the end. I can really sympathize wanting to die on your own terms and in your own way. His relationship with his dog, Beau, was beautiful and quite touching. They both would do anything for each other and they both save each other in many ways.
Jessie was a little bit harder to like. I understand her need to keep Mark’s secret, but at some point his well being should have overridden the need to keep silent. I liked how her story was told separate from Mark’s and was made up of mostly memories of their friendship and their hopes and dreams that Mark would get better.
Mark meets many people on his journey, some that help him and others who do not or who harm him. Seattle is not depicted in a very nice light, but that is somewhat the truth of many areas of the city. The people he meets who are kind and helpful to him should have maybe realized what was going on, but didn’t until it was too late. The one person he meets near the end, Wesley, should have stopped him. He spends the most time with Mark and knows what he is doing. But I can also understand why he doesn’t.
For awhile I was worried that the ending was not going to be a happy one, but it does end on a hopeful note. We don’t know what the future holds for Mark, but I am hopeful that he will survive as long as he puts his mind to it.