February 2, 2016
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“I tied you up because I need you to listen,” Derek says. “Focus.”
“Please… W-what do you want from me?”
“The truth,” he says. “About what happened the night my brother died.” He reaches for my left hand. “If I think you’re lying…” With his other hand, he flourishes a pair of flower cutters. Curved. Sharp.
And he smiles.
When Chris wakes up in a dark basement tied to a chair, he knows that he’s trapped—and why. Eight nights ago a burglar broke into Chris’ home. Eight nights ago Chris did what he had to do to protect his family. And eight nights ago a 13-year-old runaway bled to death on his kitchen floor.
Now Derek wants the truth about what happened that night. He wants proof his little brother didn’t deserve to die. For every lie Chris tells, he will lose a finger. But telling the truth is far more dangerous…
A riveting, edge-of-your-seat thriller from Edgar Award-nominated author Jeffry W. Johnston that explores the gray area between what is right and what we’ll do to protect the people we love.
The Truth is a short but pretty intense read. When seventeen-year-old Chris wakes up in an unfamiliar room, he finds himself duct-taped to a chair with Derek Brannick standing over him. Chris is already nervous but as Derek explains what he wants, Chris gets even more anxious.
Derek wants the truth of what happened the night of his brother's death. A truth Chris isn't sure he can give - or that Derek will even want.
The way The Truth is told, alternating between the 'Then' of Chris' telling what happened and the 'Now' of his telling it, taped to the chair, works nicely. We not only find out what happened eight nights ago in Chris' kitchen, but the lead up to it and moments from his past. It adds to the tension because we not only know that Derek's brother is going to die, but we know Chris is going to be taped to that chair and pushed for the truth. We know bad things are going to come.
Yet, you still enjoy the moments between Chris and his ten-year-old brother Devon. Chris is much more of a parent to Devon than just an older brother. You can see why he feels so responsible for Devon and his well being (even more so as the story progresses and we learn more of their past, what all has been put on Chris).
This pairs nicely with Derek and his concern over what happened to his brother. At first we do not get nearly as much of their relationship, but it works. It's obvious he cared for his brother but we don't know just what their relationship was like.
They are two older brothers who clearly cared for and felt responsible for their younger brothers. More so than many siblings might, ordinarily. (Having both sets of brothers have names starting with C and D was weird in the beginning.)
The tension of the novel is well done. As Chris's story unfolds and we learn what has brought the two teens to that room, there anxiety over what will happen, what Derek will do builds. I do think that a pretty big 'truth' seemed to be heavily hinted at early on. (I won't say if my assumption based on those hints was correct or not, in case you are lead to the same conclusion.)
I really enjoyed that, though The Truth is a short book, it does a great job exploring the different family dynamics and the questions of right versus wrong . . . versus somewhere in between. Though it was a quick read, I know these characters are ones I will be thinking about - what happened, why, did it have to, what their future holds - for a while.
Find out how it all starts:
About the Author:
Jeffry W. Johnston has published about thirty-five short stories and more than two hundred articles. His first young adult novel, Fragments, was an Edgar Award nominee for Best Young Adult Mystery and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection by YALSA. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and their teenage son. Visit him at jeffrywjohnston.com.
Runs 12/23-2/29 (US & Canada only)
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review copy & spotlight materials received from publisher (egalley through NetGalley)