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Sleeping Dogs

July 5, 2015

 

Even though the truth is relative, there is an obsession with knowing it, discovering it, and revealing it.  Whether it's The Truth or just one of many truths, someone is looking for it.  

 

Fox Mulder believed it was 'out there.'  Dale Cooper saw it as atangible entity to be gathered.  

 

For Norm and her friends, The Truth is a kind of novelty.  After stumbling upon the power of The Truth (as spoken aloud by those who wish to speak it), Norm, Dusk, and Neil decide to form The Truth Commission.  Their goal is not to expose truths from those who wish to hide them, but to invite their classmates at the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design to speak the truths they've been too uneasy to voice.  Beyond that, they have no idea what The Truth Commission should or will do.

Although she finds the practice fascinating at first, our narrator (whose full name is Normandy Pale) is not really all that excited about actually participating in The Truth Commission.  She is currently living with some pretty difficult truths of her own, and voicing them is not really what she wants.  Norm's sister, Keira, is also a graduate of Green Pastures.  In fact, she is a famous graphic novelist whose work portrays a grotesquely caricatured version of Norm's family...including Norm.  And, indeed, things have gotten very complicated since her sister returned from college and refused to discuss why she'd left, what she's up to when she disappears for days on end, and how it's going with the latest installment of her graphic novel series.

Ultimately, The Truth Commission does get at some truths, if not The Truth.  They discover that acknowledging the truth can lead to some very tricky feelings.  They also discover that Norm's relationship with her family is even more dysfunctional than anyone realized.

The Truth Commission is written as if it were Norm's senior project:  it's a piece of 'creative non-fiction' and contains footnotes addressed to her faculty adviser.  Even so, Norm discovers the truth of her life along with the reader.  It's by turns heartbreaking and hilarious.  The kooky, art-school types that populate The Commission's world manage to ride the line between creative caricatures and realistic teens (probably exactly the kind of thing you'd find at a real art-centered high school).

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy realistic teen fiction, are interested in the visual arts, enjoy reading about writing (I'm one of those kind of weirdos), and dysfunctional families.  The author is Canadian and this book takes place in Canada, which I find charming.  Also, I think if you've read any of Juby's other novels, you will know what to expect here.  This title is well-written, sharp, and realistic.

If you enjoyed any of these, you will probably enjoy The Truth Commission:

 

 

 

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Drama by Reina Telgemeier

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Art School Confidential by Daniel Clowes

 

 

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