CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 34 . . . . May 8, 2015
Jess lives in a beautiful home in the best part of town. She has fun friends, lots of free time, and unlimited money. She’s seems to have everything, and she’s spiraling out of control. At home, Jess is incredibly lonely. Her mother is not recovering from a severe trauma and spends most of her time in her darkened bedroom. Jess is estranged from her best friend and has resorted to hanging out with the equally troubled Nance. When Jess steps over the line enough to get noticed by her dad, he cracks down by signing her up to do volunteer work at New Beginning, a missionary shelter and soup kitchen. Over the summer, Jess begins to find away back to herself with the help of Flynn, who uses the soup kitchen, and Wilf, the grumbly senior citizen volunteer.
There isn’t much new in The Truth About Us. It has the elements of a “wild rich girl meets boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a heart of gold” story. Jess and Flynn have a love at first sight, torn apart, tearful reunion relationship. That being said, Gurtler has written some very likeable and relatable characters. Throughout the book, she slowly reveals the motivation and backstory of both the main characters and also the supporting characters, including Nance, Jess’ mom, Wilf, even Flynn’s mom. Jess discovers the people behind the poverty and homelessness at the soup kitchen and also comes to understand the people who live in her world of privilege. Her stereotypical views are challenged both by what she discovers but also by the realization that others were judging her based on what they saw on the outside.
While The Truth About Us is set in an American city, Manitoba readers will recognize some references to Winnipeg. Gurtler notes in her acknowledgements that she based her setting on Winnipeg’s Siloam Mission. Jess’ part of town is called Tuxedo and the hospital is Deer Lodge. In some ways, having those reference points threw me off when something didn’t fit, like the lack of health insurance for Flynn’s family. However, readers without those reference points wouldn’t have a problem.
The book wraps up a little too nicely but I actually wanted the hopeful ending. The Truth About Us balanced page turning predictability with just enough depth to feel that it was worth the read.
Dr. Karen Boyd is the English Language Arts and Literacy consultant with Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.