Book Review: The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
November 14, 2015
The author of OPENLY STRAIGHT returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can’t have, the grandfather he never knew, and the Porcupine of Truth.
Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn’t really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who’s long held a secret regarding Carson’s grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson’s dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the “Porcupine of Truth” in all of their lives.
This was another book that I read in preparation for the Anderson’s YA Lit Conference. I was in the middle of it when I had the opportunity to meet author Bill Konigsberg, who was a delight to meet. He mentioned that this was his favorite book of his so far, and now that I’ve finished, I can see why. Here are my thoughts:
On the Plus Side:
- Huge thumbs up for all of the diversity that Konigsberg includes – homosexuality, people of color, a variety of religions, and more. I love the snapshots of life from different perspectives.
- Konigsberg includes a wide variety of settings – some familiar, some not so much, some rural, some urban – that keeps things interesting.
- You will grow to love or love-to-hate the characters in the novel. Konigsberg makes the characters come alive on the pages, complete with their own mistakes, desires, strengths, weaknesses, growing, and changing throughout. Even the smaller characters have well-developed personalities that you won’t forget.
- Life is not sugar coated or happily ever after. Konigsberg puts lots of common and not-so-common family issues at the forefront, and we can see how different people/families learn to cope and survive despite the difficulties they encounter.
- I loved the dynamic between Carson and Aisha. They develop an awesome, fast friendship, but they encounter trials and difficulties like many friendships do. I love how they push each other to grow and to face issues head on.
- Although this is not a mystery, there is an element of trying to figure out what happened to Carson’s grandfather back in the day. You may guess the result before the end (I did), but it does not take away from your enjoyment of the ultimate unfolding.
On the Minus Side:
- I really don’t have any negatives to report on this one – I LOVED it. This is one of my very few 5 star reads of all time!
Have you read The Porcupine of Truth or anything else by Konigsberg? What did you think?