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The Book of One Hundred Truths by Julie Schumacher
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Dec 07, 2010

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Read on December 07, 2010

Whenever I encounter a novel set on the Jersey Shore, I drop everything and read it right away. Here, 12-year-old Thea is on her annual trip to visit her fathers' relatives in the fictional but credible barrier-island tourist town of Port Harbor, NJ. Back home in Minnesota, Thea has recently suffered a traumatic experience that resulted in the loss of her best friend. Thea has also taken up lying. Her mother sends her on vacation with a blank book and instructs her to write down 4 or 5 true things every day. In New Jersey, Thea's aunts task her with keeping her precociously eccentric cousin Jocelyn occupied. Jocelyn is 7 and has worries of her own. The forced company inadvertently breaks Thea out of her funk, as she and Jocelyn start to explore the town and its amusement-lined boardwalk (Such a relief for this reader. I'd been worried Thea would never leave her grandparents' house to so much as walk on the beach!). A chance near-encounter sets them on the trail of a family mystery, the solution of which will have unexpected consequences for all. The beach story, and the developing relationship between Thea and Jocelyn, are delightful. The Minnesota backstory, told through Thea's writing down the assigned 100 truths, is less successful, coming across as a device and one that distracts from the very interesting present-tense story. A short, fast but substantial read for preteen girls. And for wistful shore-loving grown-ups.
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