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The Truth Commission

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This was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own.

Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission: A story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.

309 pages, Hardcover

First published April 14, 2015

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About the author

Susan Juby

20 books276 followers
(from her website)

I was raised in Smithers, BC, Canada and lived there until I moved to Toronto at age 20. I had a brief and unsuccessful career as a fashion design student and, after I worked at a series of low paying jobs, such as server, record store employee, etc., I began a degree in English Literature at University of Toronto, which I finished at the University of British Columbia. After graduating I became an editor at a self-help/how-to book publishing company based in Vancouver. Later, I did a master’s degree in publishing.

When I was a kid I wrote fiction but gave it up for a life of crime. Okay, that’s not true, but I did get seriously sidetracked. That time in my life is the subject of my memoir, "Nice Recovery". When I was twenty, until I got myself together and when I was about 26 I started writing, in the morning before work, first on the bus, then in a coffee shop. This writing became my first novel, "Alice, I Think", which was published by Thistledown Press in 2000.

When I first started writing my intention was to write a book about a teenager who doesn't fit in, but doesn't allow that fact to crush her. The Alice MacLeod series is my homage to oddballs. I wanted to create a character who has the courage and integrity to find her own way and define herself independently of other people. I've always admired people who can do that.

After finishing three books about Alice and her family, I decided that my goal is to write every kind of book I love to read. I’ve always loved horse books. I was a lunatic for horses when I was younger. I owned several horses over the years (for a time when I was quite young I was convinced I was a horse, but let's keep that between us) and I became obsessed with an equestrian sport called dressage. I quit riding when I left home to go to college, but part of me always thought I could have been a "contender". (In retrospect, I'm not sure why I would have thought that.) Anyway, I got a nice pay day when Alice, I Think was made into a TV series, and the first thing I did was rush out a buy a horse and start working on a book about two young dressage riders. The story was initially about two girls, but soon I fell in love with a secondary character, a boy named Alex, and the book became mainly about him. That one is called "Another Kind of Cowboy".

I’m also a maniac for detective novels, which led to "Getting the Girl", a comedy about an inept detective and a high school conspiracy he is determined to stop. Book number six is my memoir. I developed a bit of a substance abuse problem when I was thirteen and I ended up getting clean and sober when I was twenty. Nice Recovery is about that time. The book includes information for people with addiction problems and interviews with amazing young people in recovery. My love for satire and the End Is Nigh novels led me to write "Bright’s Light", which is that rarest of things: a funny dystopian novel about young dunderheads in the last fun place on earth and the alien who wants to save them.

"Home to Woefield", as it’s known in the U.S. and "The Woefield Poultry Collective" as it’s known in Canada, is a comedy about a young woman from Brooklyn who inherits a derelict farm on Vancouver Island. It’s the first of my novels published specifically for adults, though I’d say at least half the readers of my other books have been adults. I hope all my readers will like it. (It does contain quite a bit of swearing. Just be forewarned!) I’ve always wanted to be self-sustaining and able to grow my own food. All I lack is land and skill. The sequel, "Republic of Dirt", is scheduled to be published January 2015 by HarperCollins.

My next teen novel is called "The Truth Commission". It will be published March 2015 by Penguin Canada and Viking U.S. The story is about a group of teens who attend an art high school who start a truth-telling club with consequences both dire and funny.

In addition to my writing, I teach creative writ

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 441 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
November 7, 2015
“The more I write, the more I realize that when you tell a story, you shape the truth. What you leave in, what you leave out, every word and every emphasis changes the meaning. Writers create the truth, for better or worse.”

This book really affected me. I don't know that I have ever read a book that manages to be so lighthearted and humourous, and yet so increasingly horrific and infuriating as it moves along.

There are so many things to praise about this book that I don't know where to start. Also, quite ironically for a book called The Truth Commission, I've got to be careful what I tell you. I don't want to give away the dark depths this seemingly-light book is headed towards. But let me just agree with all the reviewers who said this: it will make you mad.

And the thing is, for most of this book, I thought I was already mad. I mean, I thought I knew what people were talking about and yes, it was pissing me off. But, to borrow the old phrase - I hadn't seen anything yet.

The Truth Commission is a novel of exceptional writing, detailed characterization and relationships, feminism and criticism of slut-shaming, family and friendship, truth and lies. It's also about the subtle ways the truth can be distorted to extreme effect, and the truths we wish we could unlearn.
“This is a story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.”

The narrator is a girl and artist called Normandy Pale and the story revolves around her family and friends. The family aspect mainly concerns her sister - Keira - who is a famous graphic novel artist and has long drained the spotlight from Normandy's efforts.

But it also looks at the impact of her sister's fame on their parents and Normandy herself. Because Keira's stories are more than just stories, they are weaved with elements of truth. Featuring characters who are clearly based on their family members and containing private stories that were meant to stay within the family. But that's the price for having a successful sister/daughter, right?

Alongside this, Normandy and her art school friends establish what they call "The Truth Commission", which is essentially a way of asking fellow students and teachers for their truths. Finding out the reasons behind what they do and who they are, with surprising, insightful and often uplifting consequences. By doing so, the implication is that everyone is a complex human being with their own story. Rights and wrongs, victims and villains, come into question.
“It’s way easier when you have someone to blame. We want a victim and a villain and a simple story and for everyone to play their role.”

Personally, I have always been a fan of books that transcend themes, that do different things and do them all well. I like this kind of multi-layered story better. And The Truth Commission is one of those books. It is a book that made me both snort with laughter and clench my teeth in fury.

I thought it was excellent and thought-provoking.

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Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
January 16, 2021
Those who follow me, know that I am a part of a real life YA book club, and I complain about our book choices A LOT. These people are the integral part of my life and I love them all. Two of our members have youtube channels. Let me introduce you to Michelle and her latest video that explains the dynamics of our book club VERY well. Just FYI, both Michelle and I are known as people who don't like anything we collectively pick for our bookclub. She is very cool and loves red lipstick.


Michelle Reads YA


P.S. I am going to feature the other youtuber once we strong arm HER into featuring us in HER video:)
P.P.S. Also, read this book.

Wanted to see if this is a good as I remember it. Yes, 5 years later, it still holds up. Wish there were more YA novels like this. Smart, but in an easy to read, fluffy package.

Why isn't Susan Juby writing more?
5/19/16 re-read for my book club. Still infuriating.

Pretty close to 5 stars for me.

It is super funny and yet it also made my blood boil with fury. There is a character in this story that I haven't seen in YA before, and this character made me MAD.

Also, footnotes.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
June 16, 2015
Actual Rating 3.5

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Reasons to read The Truth Commission

1. The Writing Style. This book is written in a fun, witty style that will make it impossible to stop reading (unless you just happen to have exams pop up… like I did). What makes this book so much fun to read is the fact that it’s written as a non-fiction novel, where the main character is telling her story to the readers. I always enjoy reading a book structured like that because it helps forge a strong connection between the reader and the main character (IMO). It helps you get to know them better and through "the main character's" writing, their characteristics shine through. That was definitely the case in this book and the footnotes made it all the more charming.

2. THE FOOTNOTES. Holy crap those footnotes were SO MUCH FUN TO READ. That is all I have to say.

3. The Main Character. Normandy is one of the most relateable main characters ever and I LOVED reading her story. I am not even sure what exactly makes her so fun to read about. In part, it’s probably the writing style but I also think it's just her. She is so real. She is in denial about her feelings about a certain someone, she can also be envious of other people without even acknowledging the fact she is envious but she is also a great friend and person. She is someone who internalizes her feelings but given the way she grew up with a speshul snowflake sister, I am not surprised. I loved watching Normandy find her inner strength and watching her shine like the awesome human she is.

4. The Friendships. The relationships in this novel are complex but the bond between Normandy and her friends is great. That isn’t to say they never had any sort of drama but its understandable drama because no friendship is perfect! And none of the individuals within this group are. What is also awesome is the people they meet along their journey to seek the truth and the bonds they forge with other people.

5. The Plot. The way things unfold in the book is brilliant. It adds a layer of mystery to book and if you know me, you know how I love my mystery. I also just love how people and things come together in this book.

Other awesome things include: (some) Diversity, deals with slut-shaming (to a certain degree), lack of ANNOYING drama.
A Few Criticisms

1. Kiera (AKA Norm’s older, famous sister). Kiera was a character with potential and I feel like that potential remained unrealized. Maybe I just kept on wanting something more positive between her and Norm and when things turned out the way they did, I ended up feeling disappointed.

2. Norm's family. Norm’s parents aren’t the worst parents in town but they aren’t winning any awards either. Their passiveness just rubbed me the wrong way and I wish they were able to stand up for themselves but also for Norm. I would like to say that I do like how things ended with Norm and her dad but I still wanted more.

3. I cannot say much else (because spoilers)but the way rape was used in the novel bothered me. It isn’t used in a really horrible or even realllly offensive, but it just doesn’t work for me as a reader and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me, but I do think the issue could have been handled differently.

Verdict: This is a book I’d definitely recommend. There is only one thing that really bothered me but I was still able to enjoy the book and hopefully you will too since it is so much.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
December 10, 2020
3.5 stars

A creative, often funny but also very sad YA book about Normandy and her 'Truth Commission' project she took on with her friends to discover 'truths' from the people around them, mostly classmates, school authority figures and family, particularly Keira, Normandy's popular sister who published bestselling graphic novels whose characters are ugly and exaggerated versions of her extremely average family.

The book is written like an academic paper, a creative non-fiction written by Normandy herself. The literary and writing devices used are clever but at times I felt like the main story was compromised because the author was more focused on the creative elements. My feelings for the footnotes as forewarned by Normandy are conflicted. At times I find them informative and hilarious, at times I find them tedious and annoying.

Still, I find the book a generally unique and thoughtful read. It managed to be light and dark at the same time as it delved into serious subject matters, especially awful dysfunctional families that seriously made my blood seethe. The story behind Kiera's change of behavior is the huge mystery in the plot. I should have braced myself for the infuriating revelations of the truth which even though is awful, sad, and depressing did set Normandy free. Thank goodness for her friends who always support her.
Profile Image for Mónica BQ.
776 reviews118 followers
February 23, 2016
Well, shit .

The very best books are those that you either love or hate. The very best books are those that sneak up on your feelings and makes them fucking explode. With love, with hate, with both.

This book made me mad, really really mad. And I also want everyone in the world and their mother to read it.

I find it really weird that I can't say anything about this book's plot or ideas or themes. Because the thing is that you must read them for yourself.

Written in the way of creative non-fiction this book ironically gives the most skewed and partial version of the truth about it's story. All the while sticking close to the facts.
Perception is a thing that always comes into place when you describe yourself.
Which just goes to show you, truth is not necessarily real. Nor is it the whole picture.
You think you know what this book is a about: families, resentment, art, creativity, friendship, anti-slut shaming, growing-up...
And then you realise: you know nothing.*

Half of this book and it's million footnotes are worth a quote, but it's impossible to quote this without giving away the essential idea of the book. That you have to discover the truth yourself.

As funny as it was it took me a bit to get into the book. And then once I got hooked it took only a slightly longer than allowed lunch hour to read in its entirety.

Anyway, if you are going to start demanding honesty out of people, don't forget to add the reconciliation** part to your truth commission.

*quote by the famous Ygritte
**the action of making one view or belief compatible with another (THERE, I managed to fucking quote the book!)

In a somewhat unrelated note, the parallels that I'm running between my feelings for this book (YA, realistic fiction, coming of age) and The Subs Club (adult, BDSM, romance), which was my last read are horrifyingly funny. I am a resentful bitch and there's no denying it. But beautiful friendships is what I'm optimistically trying to take away from these books. Instead of, you know, the actual painful truth of myself.

Finally, it's awfully unnerving that the last footnote and the last shout-out of this book is to The Corrections. Because no less than I month ago I also had a love-hate response to the old love-hate response that I had had about it when I was a teen. Very appalling feeling it is, the absurdity of finding hidden truths about yourself in it all.
Profile Image for Marjorie Ingall.
Author 8 books122 followers
June 8, 2015
I ADORED this. HOLY CRAP. Thought-provoking, funny, distressing and cathartic (but not in a bullshit way). As my 13-year-old, Josie (who also loved it), pointed out, John Green should WISH he could write quirky-yet-real characters like this.

The conceit: This is make-believe narrative non-fiction by an 11th grader at an art school, creating a writing project (to go along with her elaborate embroideries in fabric and thread) about her friends' attempts to get people to tell the truth about things (hence the title) as well as her growing awareness of her own family's lack of truth-telling -- all accompanied by doodly illustrations in the margins and amusing Foster-Wallace-esque footnotes. Our narrator's sister is a famous graphic novelist who has mined the family's life for her work and created a very unflattering version of her parents and sister. And IN ACTUAL FACT this a novel by a grown-up person (an art school teacher, who hired one of her former students to do the little interstitial drawings, aw). Basically, it's a story about truth in which unreliable narrators AHOY.

It depicts lovely friendships, a fucked-up family, a bunch of art students with all their pretensions and endearing-ness (not a word, I know), plus tons of delightful fashion and a character with a passionate love of movies. There is adorable taxidermy. There's even a perfect John Hughes-esque self-consciously romantic scene. Now that I think about it, this is a book for people who know Andi should have ended up with Duckie.

I laughed, I cried, I got furious, I read with my mouth hanging open in an OMG I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING manner. I think this is my fave YA so far this year...but I think all adults who work in journalism, autobiographical fiction, ghostwriting and graphic novels should read it. It brings up excellent questions about who owns stories and what storytellers owe people whose lives become fodder.

I feel aggrieved that the cover sucks. However, this is the only fault I found in the entire book.
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews123 followers
May 17, 2015
4.5 stars.

This had strong resonances with two of this year's Book Battle books, made me think of another one a few times, and I bet if I had time and will I could come up with more connections. The two were The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy and The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. It's not a major leap, with a somewhat unreliable narrator who's a teen in an art school, and with questions of how much integrity people will retain in the face of the lure of profit. I really liked the voices of both Ethan (Vigilante Poets) and Normandy (Truth Commission), which takes care of a lot of feelings about a book right there. But The Truth Commission kept on surprising me, and one of those surprises was how absolutely wonderful the school (the Green Pastures Academy of Art & Applied Design) was. It's quirky and exaggerated enough that it doesn't come across as simply idealized or sentimental, but how fantastic is it to have a school with wonderful teachers, fantastic student counselor and enough resources to stand up for students' interests when they've nobody else? Normandy's humour in describing it (and herself and fellow art students) also keeps it from being too much.
If there's one thing we learn at Green Pastures, other than the fact that in some cases art can pay very well, it's that there is help available to us if we get overwhelmed. As art students, we are presumed to have few practical life skills and to be less stable overall. Casual observation would suggest that this is a safe assessment. [...]
At G.P., students get upset over a) ambition outstripping ability; b) lack of sleep; c) sexual and drug experimentation done in an effort to prove oneself talented. Of course, sex and drugs done strictly as an artistic affection are just as powerful as they are if you do them with the purpose of getting loaded. It's a painful lesson that must be learned by every art student who assumes that if they wear ironic hats, surely they should be able to have ironic sex and do ironic drugs.

As I said, I also thought immediately of Addison Stone, because there's a very talented young artist who gets more than her fair share of special treatment because of her talent. That is not Normandy, but rather her sister, and the - crucial for me - difference between the two books is that Juby shows how appalling the cost is to everyone when adults fail to hold the young artist accountable for her behaviour. Norm's sister, Keira, is a graphic artist whose comics portray (and exploit) her family - her parents and Normandy shown in grossly distorted ways - to their humilation and hurt, and her fame and profit. It's ugly, and while Normandy starts off responding in typical abused child manner, still craving Keira's approval, she finally manages to speak up and say that what Keira has done is wrong and she's never consented.

I'd have loved this even if I weren't so thrilled that everything I hated in Addison Stone is done *right* here, but the contrast didn't hurt. Nor did the fact that I kept being wrong about the consequences of the ill-advised Truth Commission's campaign. The foreshadowing that seemed to point to some really tragic outcomes was misleading in a good way that was a relief without being any kind of silly, too-easy resolution of all the problems. Of Normandy's problems, which were mostly the real ones. Dusk was just great - not always nice, and absolutely capable of bullying when she wasn't getting her way, but still ultimately a true friend.

Finally, keeping this a bit vague, whatever about the exaggerated nature of some aspects of the story, I found the response at the end to Normandy's speaking out about what Keira had done (and her even worse plan for the next book and film) to be tragically realistic. People excusing Keira because it was "art", and therefore she had the right to do whatever she chose to do? Yes. People attacking Normandy because Keira's book was delayed - "I became the Yoko Ono of graphic novels. Flounder hate sites popped up. ... I pretty much had to get off the Internet, because Keira's nutbag fans made my life a misery." Sadly, yes. (Don't worry though, because Normandy's friends - the "oddballs" of Green Pastures - have her back too.)

I didn't *always* love the footnotes; lots of them were funny, some were serious and good about narrative unreliability, but I found the direct comments to Ms. Fowler, the creative writing teacher for whom the piece was being written (as well as the school counselor) to be a bit too naive at times. You see later how seriously Normandy does take the help Ms. Fowler gives her, but in the beginning they can be a little cutsey. Still, I'd forgive a narrator much when she says this in the Author's Note at the beginning: "Warning: Sometimes when I write, I find myself lapsing into what Mr. Wells [her English teacher] calls 'high turgid English'"

Apparently there's to be another book set in Green Pastures, and I can't wait. I'm hoping to see some of the characters again (Brian!! Be okay, Brian!) but whatever, I'll be there. And I'll clearly have to visit Nanaimo when - uh, next in the Pacific Northwest.

(Oh, that's right - I meant to add that Normandy's embroidery made me think of poor Izzy and her needlepoint. Book Battle book #3. What Normandy said about the meditative qualities of needlework - yes. And it was great when other people responded to her work as the real art it is. Wish Izzy had got more of that kind of support sooner.)
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
February 25, 2015
Told as "narrative non-fiction," Normandy Pale's story is about getting to the bottom of her famous graphic novelist sister's strange return home from college. This is a funny -- at times out-loud-laughter -- and clever and yet deep and thoughtful look at relationships, about the intricacies of families, and about truth and creative truth telling. Juby's book is about who gets to tell your story and how they get to spin it, as well as what the implications of those things may be.

A seriously DELIGHTFUL read. It might make some readers mad and it will leave many wanting to talk, but that would nail home the point perfectly.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books569 followers
August 28, 2017
I was surprised by how much I liked this book! I went into it thinking it was some light entertainment, but don't be fooled by the sweet cover. This story is clever and thoughtful and definitely not fluff. I will definitely keep an eye on this author and recommend this book to fans of clever YA fiction!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
September 12, 2015
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Will the truth really set you free? In Susan Juby's quirky and enjoyable The Truth Commission , three art students believe so, and strive to compel their fellow students to expressing the truth about the various situations they're in—but they don't realize that the truth comes at a price, and that facing your own truths may cause more difficulty than you realize.

Normandy Pale is a student at the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. She is a tremendously talented artist and embroiderer; trouble is, she lives in the shadow of her older sister, Keira, also a graduate of Green Pastures. Keira became famous with a series of graphic novels that lampooned Normandy and their parents, but their parents don't seem to care, and only seem to indulge Keira's behavior.

One day Normandy and her two best friends, Neil and Dusk (whose real name is Dawn—gotta love it), launch what they call The Truth Commission, designed to get their fellow classmates to reveal their not-so-secret secrets. As they start questioning their peers, they find the whole process tremendously empowering, although they're not the ones telling the truth, but their efforts start an interesting domino-like effect across the school, which has both positive and negative results.

But the truth that Normandy finds herself most compelled to uncover is the truth about Keira, who left her university studies and returned home, ostensibly to write the next installment in her graphic novel series. Keira is acting more eccentric than ever, and Normandy can't quite understand why their parents won't get to the bottom of what's going on with her. And then, without warning, Keira starts to confide in Normandy about an incident that has left her shaken. Normandy faces the ultimate dilemma: as she and her friends pursue their search for other people to reveal their truths, should she try to do the same with Keira? Will anyone care if she does?

This was a warm, amusing, and utterly engaging book, populated with really intriguing characters. While so many of the issues the characters dealt with are familiar, Juby makes you care about her characters, so you want to keep reading. The book is ostensibly Normandy's junior project in school, so it's a reflection on the events that occurred and how they made her feel, along with her wry (and sometimes off-topic) observations, even some drawings here and there.

I don't know how you read a book, but this one has a lot of footnotes, mostly Normandy's observations and comments to the readers of her manuscript. When you read a book with footnotes on a Kindle, you have to click back and forth between the footnote and the text, so it took a little longer to get through the text, and sometimes the footnotes didn't advance the story that much. But in the end, it's a tiny irritation that didn't dampen my enthusiasm for this terrific book in the slightest.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Luise.
348 reviews
February 7, 2017
Hm ok, also zunächst einmal habe ich etwas komplett anderes erwartet. Die Beschreibung, dass der Trupp um Normandy einmal die Woche einen Mitschüler nach der tiefsten Wahrheit fragt, hat mich dazu bewogen, dieses Buch überhaupt zu lesen.

Leider war das nicht direkt der Fall. Ja, es wurden Leute befragt, aber nur ganz am Anfang in der Hocheuphorie der Aktion ca. 6 Personen. Danach wurde nichts mehr gefragt, sondern vielmehr Selbstfindung betrieben und 'die Wahrheit um Normandy's Schwester' enthüllt.

Das hat sich letztendlich als relativ spannend herausgestellt, aber war erstmal grundsätzlich negativ, weil nicht das was versprochen. Wenn Rinderhack draufsteht, möchte man ja schließlich auch kein Pferdefleisch in seiner Tiefkühllasagne haben, nicht wahr?

Der Hauptgrund, weshalb ich das Buch nach dem ersten Kapitel beinah in den Kamin geworfen hätte, war jedoch der Erzählstil. Es ist quasi ein Schulprojekt von Normandy, bei dem sie fortlaufend einzelne Kapitel bei ihrer Lehrerin einreicht. Dabei spricht sie oft den Leser direkt an oder kommuniziert alternativ über Fußnoten mit der Lehrerin/ dem Leser. Die direkte Ansprache an sich war schon ziemlich befremdlich und leseflussirritierend. Die Fußnoten haben dann aber den Rest gegeben. 113 Stück auf 350 Seiten. Das ist ein Drittel des Buches, das mit Fußnoten unterbrochen wurde. Meine Fresse.

Nachdem ich dann aufgehört habe, diese zu lesen und Normandy so langsam ihren Erzählfluss gefunden hat, ging es dann aber immerhin. Außerdem wollte ich wissen, ob da vielleicht doch noch mehr nach der Wahrheit gefragt wird.

Nun eher zur Geschichte an sich:

Das Ergebnis der 'harten Fragen nach der Wahrheit' war irgendwie seltsam. Alle Personen waren danach voll froh, dass jemand fragte/ überglücklich, dass sie endlich drüber reden konnten/ unfassbar dankbar/ befreit/ was auch immer. Das fand ich etwas übertrieben. (Außerdem war jede einzelne Person an der Schule/ in Normandy's Bekanntenkreis der jeweils beste K��nstler in einem anderen 'Bereich'. Als wenn es pro Kunstfacette nur einen guten Schüler an der Schule gibt. Sicher doch.)

Normandy's Familie ist fürchterlich. Vor allem ihre fürchterliche Schwester und ihre beinah ebenso fürchterliche Mutter. Die hat mir richtig leid getan und ich muss sagen, so komisch das Mädel auch ist, unter den gegebenen Umständen ist doch noch was relativ normales aus ihr geworden. Ich fand es gut, wie sie mit der Hilfe ihrer Freunde nach der Wahrheit über ihre Schwester geforscht hat und letztendlich ihren Arsch hochbekommen und was an ihrer Situation geändert hat. Und das wirklich lobenswert konsequent. (Ich möchte an dieser Stelle nichts spoilern, aber es glücklicherweise kein fürchterlich erzwungenes und unrealistisches happy happy end.)

Da der Verlauf eben jener Wahrheitsfindung so spannend verlaufen ist, hat mich die Geschichte am Ende doch noch einigermaßen zufrieden gestimmt. Glück gehabt.
Profile Image for katayoun Masoodi.
620 reviews119 followers
May 4, 2015
for hallie :)

maybe 3.5 or 3.75, but i like it enough to round it up to 4 instead of 3 :)

so done and i liked it all and can't say why or talk about it. it felt good and also it felt that there were some things missing maybe, i just can't find why. would love for you all to read it and read your reviews and maybe understand why i felt what! :)
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
February 22, 2021
I feel like I'm accomplishing so much lately, like when it comes to knocking books off of my TBR. I'm only saying this because it took me 4 years to finally get this book. Only 4 years lol.

Besides that sad comment, The Truth Commission was actually a pretty good book. So I'm a bit disappointed in myself for waiting so freaking long to read it. In this, you will meet Normandy. She's a pretty normal girl with a super creative and famous sister. Ugh, to have someone in your family being an accomplished author. I'm completely jealous of a book character right now.

After meeting Normandy, it was pretty easy to like her and her friends. Plus I did find it pretty interesting that they formed the truth commission to get their classmates secrets and stuff. Brilliant idea but I knew that they were going to be dished some consequences at the same time. It was a great read that was completely entertaining from start to finish. I also wasn't expecting to go through so many emotions but it was well worth it (in my opinion).

In the end, I really hope it doesn't take me another 4 years to read another book by Susan. I really really hope.
Profile Image for Joshua Dancer.
149 reviews8 followers
August 30, 2015
I have such mixed feelings on this book. On the one hand, the story was interesting to keep me up all night finishing it, which is a commendable feat. And the framing device is interesting, albeit flawed. I think adults who enjoy YA lit would probably find this to be an interesting read. But on the other hand, it teaches kids - the target audience - some terrible lessons. Let's dive right into the negatives, shall we? On the surface, this seems like a great book for teaching important life lessons. It covers things like slut shaming and sexuality with a moderate amount of care, but unfortunately it also has an apparently straight, female character "reclaiming" a slur historically used against gay men, an unironic use of the "term friend zone," and the excusing of cultural appropriation, as long as the offenders are "sweetly committed pretenders who weren't hurting anyone with their delusions." There's also some comparatively mild ableist language. I also have relatively minor criticisms about the flatness of the characters and the inconsistency of the conceit (primarily that a lot of the footnotes make it sound like this is the first draft, yet there's a part in the project itself that refers to the project being completed, followed a few pages later by another footnote that only makes sense attached to a first draft. There's no internal consistency, is what I'm saying. Plus there are times when it seems like Juby forgot the concept and just started writing in a more typical novel style, which results in the books reading like it was written by two different people.
I have some final complaints that I need to rant about that contains spoilers, so I'll put it under spoiler tags, but it's not really important to my recommendation: if you're in the target audience for this book (i.e. a teen), read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, or anything by Courtney Summers instead. They're all better written books, and more importantly, they do a much better job of discussing serious issues. If you're an adult who likes YA, and you've already read all the previously mentioned recommendations, it may be worth checking out. It is a pretty quick read.
***in case the tags don't work, spoilers follow***
Profile Image for Noelle.
373 reviews247 followers
March 30, 2016

Yup, I'm weak I can't help myself. Might as well go from a meme to another pop culture phenomenon---

**cue Hamilton** Let me tell you what I wish I'd known / When I was young and dreamed of glory / You have no control: Who Lives / Who Dies / Who tells your story?

Who indeed. The Truth Commission was an engaging story about putting yourself back in the narrative.

Some spoilery caveats:.

And a grumble: I was once again thrown off kilter because for the second book in a row the book ended at 70% on my Kindle. This time it was thanks to each footnote getting it's own page at the end of the e-book version.

Profile Image for Jabiz Raisdana.
340 reviews75 followers
May 24, 2015
I loved this one. From the meta-self-ware post-modern text, to the quirky art school characters and the riveting suspenseful plot- the last 80 or so pages keep you glued to the page- this is such a smart, funny, and emotional young adult novel.

Layered beneath the humor and the footnotes, are important themes for the curious and careful reader to fish out. Read this now. You will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,248 reviews393 followers
March 31, 2019
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!

BITCH I was going to leave this book unreviewed due to feeling little but some annoyance about it, but then I got to those last 70 pages and now I’ve got a whole lot of shit to say!

There are gonna be some big spoilers later and I’ll tell you when they start, but I’ll be swearing a lot throughout.

So this book stars Normandy Pale, a surprisingly average student at a specialty high school for the arts. The book itself is presented to readers as a creative nonfiction assignment Norm wrote as her spring special project and it comes complete with footnotes that often address Norm’s advisor. It’s a clever epistolary novel format and I’m not opposed to reading more books with the same conceit.

The form of the novel is really its only highlight. Norm’s friends Dusk and Neil are disgustingly pretentious in their group’s “truth-seeking” pursuits, which are as simple as walking up to someone and directly asking that person about whatever has made them gossip-worthy, such as their sexual identity or their drug problems. I dreaded every scene of that and those where the three friends discussed/planned who the next subject would be.

One person Norm is assigned but whom she never approaches is a white girl who spends the majority of the book pretending to be Native (specifically Tla A’min and Sliammon). The character is a compulsive liar and is referred to as such in the novel itself. Everyone in the book–yes, including Norm and her friends–is well aware that she’s just a blindingly white girl lying her ass off, but they all shrug it off so the girl can engage in cultural appropriation and redface with gusto. The conclusion of this girl’s story? She gets bored of pretending to be Native and decides she’s going to be French Canadian next.

All of the above is particularly heinous given the following facts:

*There are no actual Native characters from any tribal nation in this book;
**Canada has a horrid history in regards to how it has treated it Indigenous population;
***The Canadian government doesn’t appear to give a single shit about its thousands of missing and murdered Native women.

AND THEN THERE’S KIERA FUCKING PALE. This is where the spoilers (and the rampant swearing) REALLY start.

So Kiera is Norm’s older sister as well as a bestselling graphic novelist whose webcomic-turned-print series is a portal fantasy starting fictionalized, deeply unflattering versions of Norm and the girls’ parents twice over. One “normal” family where run-of-the-mill things happen, one fantasy family that takes those moments and flanderizes them for events and storylines. Kiera’s storylines are drawn from events in the Pale family, so all the moments Norm would like to forget are memorialized in the comic.

All that is just the set-up for this bullshit: Kiera drops out of her prestigious college and returns home, where she wanders into Norm’s bedroom at night and spins the story of why she dropped out.

What she tells Norm: She had an affair with one of her professors, they went on a hike together, he raped her, and he fell off a cliff to his death. Kiera leaves it vague as to whether it was an accident or she pushed him.

The truth: NONE OF THE ABOVE. The professor was gay, married, and utterly uninvolved with Kiera. He just happened to die around the time Kiera dropped out, which she did because she was stuck in her comic and felt she had to go home in order to squeeze more inspiration out of the family she openly hates. Also, the story she told Norm is exactly what she plans to inflict on her sister’s comic expy Flounder. The entire world knows that Kiera’s stories all come from events in her family, so that particular storyline would imply to everyone that such a thing actually happened to Norm.

Where in the everloving fuck do I even begin in unpacking all this horseshit? False rape accusations? Manipulation? Bi erasure and gross misuse of rape?

OH I guess those last two are where we’ll start. Kiera’s lies unravel when Norm looks into which professor her sister is talking about. Research turns up that the guy was married to a man, leaving Norm incredulous that a gay man might rape a woman. That’s a very close paraphrase of Norm’s thoughts!

Um, bisexual men exist? And so do other men attracted to multiple genders? Norm’s casual assumption that he’s gay, while it turns out to be correct, rests solely on the fact he married a man. It’s a complete erasure of the many bisexual/multiple-gender-attracted men who are married to or in a relationship with other men. No one’s sexual identity changes based on who their partner is! NO ONE’S. A bisexual man isn’t gay when with a man or hetero when with a woman, HE’S BISEXUAL THE ENTIRE TIME.

Also, YOUR SEXUAL IDENTITY DOES NOT PRECLUDE YOU FROM RAPING SOMEONE. That’s because rape is about power, not who you’re attracted to. Deciding that a man couldn’t have possibly raped a woman because he’s gay has damaging implications for all rape victims and survivors. Because hey, did you know? Hetero men rape men! Hetero women rape women (and anyone who wants to say women can’t commit rape at all is gonna be served a goddAMN PUNCH TO THE REPRODUCTIVES)! SEXUAL IDENTITY DOESN’T NECESSARILY LINE UP.

ALSO also, false rape accusations even in a fictional book like this where the person lying doesn’t take it to the authorities? It still gives the misogynist, shit-snorting bastards who say false rape accusations are more common than the SUPER TINY PERCENTAGE THEY’VE ALWAYS BEEN more fuel for their bullshit.

Fuck fuck shit fuck goddammit hell piss.


I do not recommend The Truth Commission. I’ve got another book by Juby that I haven’t read yet, but I’m gonna be getting rid of it without reading a page. That’s just how disgusted I am with this novel.
Profile Image for Michelle’s Library.
931 reviews169 followers
January 16, 2021
Does My Book Club Hate Me? || Reading Vlog https://youtu.be/XHYvKFtHneg

My favorite book I read for this vlog. Still don’t love the writing of this book because it felt really jumbled but the sister and parents storyline were unforgettable.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,158 reviews118 followers
May 26, 2015
Well. I guess I'll start by pointing out that Hallie really liked this, so The Truth Commission is obviously not without merit. But.

I did not find this book's exploration of truth to be believable or compelling. Normandy, our narrator, is an initially reluctant participant in her friends' new project, their Truth Commission. The goal of this commission is, essentially, to approach classmates and ask them revealing questions in an attempt to uncover certain truths. First, they ask questions to which they already know the answers. Second, these questions, and the accompanying truths, are simple, not complicated, and there is nothing about them that proves that the truth is a valuable thing to have in the open, or that public truth is more important than privacy, or that the three friends are anything more than gossiping busybodies.

These points, by the way, are all mentioned in passing at some point during Normandy's narrative. This is a case where self-awareness does not excuse the flaws it briefly acknowledges.

Also, the concept of the Truth Commission is used solely to develop the book's conclusion. Conveniently enough, all Truth Commission subjects become friends, for some unexplainable reason (saying that these truths are freeing and empowering does not make them so, nor does the novel explain why they are a basis for immediate friendship and trust) and all these friends are necessary to help Normandy face her family.

Which is what this novel's about, in the end. It's not really about truth, in the grand, thematic sense of the word. It's a fairly intimate family drama complicated by Keira's mostly distant fame - which is not to say there isn't a place for small-scale stories! There is! But disguising a small-scale story in the trappings of truth, as if it were an ambitious piece of work about truth itself, suggests something bigger, something the book never lives up to.

Frustratingly, the characters populating Normandy's narration are primarily one-note and show no development over the course of the story. There's Aimee of the plastic surgeries, the ambiguous Tyler, Brian the addict. Neil the painter of beautiful women (his life gets a bit more dimension at the very end of the book, but it's too little, too late), Dusk the stereotypical rebel, and Normandy, the passive protagonist, who acknowledges the shortcomings of a passive protagonist, and fittingly, whose story doesn't come to life until she asserts herself - in a fight with Dusk, in a fight with her family.

Even the footnotes didn't work for me, which is saying something, because Bartimaeus's footnotes are the best parts of his narration. In general, the writing felt fumblingly awkward, with Normandy narrating a lot of things that didn't have emotional impact, and should have, or just stringing together words in ways that made me wince.

It's funny - I'm not angry at this book, though I feel like I should be. I'm mostly disappointed. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy proves that a book can be about story and ideas. And there are hints of good story in The Truth Commission: the thread of poverty, for example. But the novel chases an idea instead, an idea it never quite grasps, and story falls by the wayside as a result.
Profile Image for ✨Skye✨.
382 reviews63 followers
October 10, 2019
This book has been on my list for a few years, after seeing that Emily May gave it 5 stars. Now that I've finally read it, I can certainly see why! This is a really underrated read.
The Truth Commission follows Normandy, whose sister is a famous graphic novelist who bases her stories around her family. Normandy and her friends decide to create the truth commission-essentially, they ask their classmates about their secrets, to varying degrees of success.
This book evoked so many emotions from me! It broke my heart, it made me happy, it made me squeal, and it also made me incredibly angry. This book shows a person hard done by, and yet it's more subtle than a lot of other books are. There are so many layers to the injustices Normandy faces, and they're very skilfully intertwined with the complex family and friend relationships that are present throughout this book.
It has a very original writing style, with a sarcastic narrator constantly breaking the fourth wall and with a lot of footnotes. Think Nevernight if it was a 'creative non-fiction' school project! It was a very engaging way to tell the story and a way to really get a sense of Normandy's character. I cared deeply about all of them-our main 3 and their truthees. They all have their own stories, and I appreciate that a lot.
This isn't a particularly popular book, but it should be. It deals with some really mature themes in a very tactful way, and I truly hope this book appeals to at least one person with this review. I loved it.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
754 reviews80 followers
April 14, 2015
Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear. They are the Truth Commission. But Normandy's passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. The truth can be dangerous, especially when it involves her brilliant older sister, Keira, the creator of a bestselling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence. Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed...

The Truth Commission is clever and revealing, baring the truth for all those to see. Whether or not that's good or bad, whether or not it works, that's the question.

Normandy is a bright and clever voice. She's not as open to the idea of revealing the truths of those around her as her friends are, not when a truth about her sister could be dangerous if revealed. She's caught between not wanting to be intrusive and tired of living in a house where so many things are left unsaid. Her family is in a carefully constructed cocoon, but the shell of it is so fragile that the slightest bump might crack it open. Unfortunately, the truth needs to come out.

The narrative non-fiction storytelling aspect of the book is intriguing and interesting. It's all anchored by Normandy's clear voice, her emotions and observations, her fears and her anger and her assumptions about the people around her. It also, in the beginning, made the story feel rather dense. It felt like there was so much to read and to remember, so much going on.

The truth is one of those hard to navigate things. One of those sometimes effortless, sometimes sticky sludgy hard-to-move-through tar pit things. Truths that don't hurt anyone and truths that impact everyone. But there's wanting to know the truth, wanting to expose the flimsy useless lies we use every single day, and there's prying in people's private business. This book did brush up against that line a time or two.

This book explores the truth in an honest way, sometimes a brutally honest way. Sometimes it sets us free, but other times it sucks. Other times we know the truth but prefer instead to ignore it, to avoid it, because it makes life easier. An interesting story, to be sure. On a personal note, there were parts I liked, like Normandy, like her humour and personality, and there were parts I didn't, like some of the side characters. But that happens to everyone, yes? I would definitely recommend this to those looking for a well-written and realistic narrator and a mystery of sorts to fall into.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,144 reviews593 followers
February 19, 2017
The Truth Commission is an odd little book. It's rather quirky, from the characters to the writing style, but somehow it works. 4 1/2 stars!

Normandy Pale is an average girl. She's got nice friends and goes to a cool art school. Then there's her sister, Keira, a famous graphic novelist. That would be pretty cool, but Keira uses caricatures of her family in the story.

Keira abruptly returns home from college, seemingly traumatized. Simultaneously, Normandy's friends have started The Truth Commission, a movement of sorts to find out the truth about different mysterious people at their school.

The story is written in the style of an assignment for her creative writing class, making it very fun to read. We get lots of footnotes, which I have a sort of love-hate relationship with.

The characters in this book were very well written. We have Normandy's friends, who are very developed and layered as well as likable. We have her family who are just about the most infuriating people I've ever read about. And when I say infuriating, I really mean it. I have to warn you, while this book is light and humorous for the most part it will make you extremely angry at times.

Normandy's relationships between the different characters is written very well. We have positive messages about friendship, feminism, and love. There's a lot of meaningful things sprinkled in between the sort of funny, entertaining style of the story.

The writing is great. Normandy's voice feels accurate to a teenager, it's also a very fun read. I honestly devoured the pages! I couldn't put it down. When I sat down to read for a half hour I ended up reading for an hour and a half because I just had to finish it!

That's how you know you've got a good book in your hands.

Really glad I decided to pick this up! Recommended for people who enjoy books about writing, contemporary fans, and people looking for a fun and light read with a darker side at times.
Profile Image for Patrizia.
312 reviews15 followers
April 24, 2015
Worum geht es?
Die Freunde Normandy, Dusk und Neil wagen ein Experiment der besonderen Art und gründen die Wahrheitskommission. Die Idee dahinter? Eine Person das fragen, was sich niemand auszusprechen traute, obwohl sich doch jeder dafür interessierte. Wir kennen diesen modernen Gossip - jeder hat schonmal über jemanden geredet und gemutmaßt. So wechseln sich die drei Freunde in ihren Befragungen ab, jede Woche muss ein anderer von ihnen jemanden ihrer Kunst-Schule auf den Zahn fühlen. Dabei treten sie nicht nur Türen bei ihren Mitschülern ein oder bringen Mauern von Lügen zum einstürzen - sie erfahren dabei auch ihre ganz eigene Wahrheit. Und Normandy lässt uns in Essay-Form daran teilhaben.

Wie hat es mir gefallen?
Ich hatte dieses Buch auch bei der lieben Mona vom Booktuber-Kanal KleineMonii gesehen und fühlte mich sofort von der Beschreibung angesprochen. Jugendliche, die anderen Leuten mal ganz unverfroren auf den Zahn fühlen und die "Frechheit" besitzen, die Klassenkameradin nach ihren gemachten Brüsten auszufragen. Das schreit doch schon nach sehr viel Drama! Vor allem weil der Klappentext ja ebenso verspricht, dass die drei Freunde sich selbst in irgendeiner Weise der Wahrheit stellen müssen ... aber irgendwie haperte es sehr stark an der Umsetzung.
Dabei lief es zu Beginn recht gut. Man wird recht flott in die Geschichte eingeführt und bekommt auch schnell einen Draht zur Schreiberin Normandy. Das Besondere an der Geschichte ist gleichzeitig sehr ungewöhnlich für einen Roman: Normandy schreibt die Erlebnisse der Wahrheitskommission in Essay-Form auf - mit Fußnoten. Ich könnte mir vorstellen, dass viele diese Art der Stilistik sehr gewöhnungsbedürftig empfinden. Mir hingegen hat es zu Beginn recht wenig ausgemacht, zwischen Normaltext und Fußnote zu switchen - nach fünf Jahren Studium gewöhnt man sich ja schließlich an alles (naja fast alles).

Die Jugendlichen führen also ihre Wahrheitskommission durch, planen wer wann wie wen nach der Wahrheit fragt und was mich zwar zu Beginn noch recht wenig störte, aber im weiteren Verlauf immer mehr: es scheint gar nicht so schwierig zu sein, den Mitschülern oder auch Lehrern die Wahrheit über die eigene Person zu entlocken. Es hatte förmlich den Anschein, als wollten die Leute gerade über unangenehme Wahrheiten sprechen. Normandy, Neil und Dusk kamen meiner Meinung nach nie an einen Punkt, an dem es wirklich schwierig oder gar brenzlig wurde. Sie wurden meiner Meinung nach nie in ihrem Tun behindert. Das war vielleicht zu Beginn der Geschichte noch recht angenehm, aber im weiteren Verlauf wurde ich in meiner Erwartung, dass da auch mal was dramatisches passiert, schlichtweg enttäuscht.
Dramatisch wurde es lediglich in Bezug auf Normandy - die übrigens die einzige ist, die sich mit ihrer eigenen Wahrheit auseinander setzen muss. Denn Normandy wächst in einer recht eigenartigen Familie auf. Ihre Schwester Keira ist eine weltberühmte Graphic Novel-Autorin und quasi der goldene Stern in der Familie. Normandy würde ich jetzt nicht als schwarzes Schaf bezeichnen, aber sie steht definitiv im Schatten ihrer Schwester. Dass Keira aber auf ganz widerliche Art und Weise in dieser Familie ein- und ausgeht, ist für Normandy ein richtiges Problem und eine Wahrheit, die sich Normandy's Eltern nicht eingestehen wollen. Die Kapitel, in denen es um Normandy's Familie geht, sind übrigens die tiefgründigsten im gesamten Buch. Alles andere bleibt sehr oberflächlich, obwohl es doch eigentlich um Wahrheiten geht. Zumindest habe ich es so empfunden und dies fand ich auch in Bezug auf die Aktionen der Wahrheitskommission sehr schade. Denn die empfand ich dann mehr und mehr als störend. Ich wollte nicht mehr wissen, ob eine Mitschülerin etwas mit zwei Typen gleichzeitig hatte. Ich wollte wissen, was da bei Normandy zuhause los war, was mit Keira nicht stimmt!

Und von da an störten mich auch die Fußnoten, die gen Ende des Buches kaum noch etwas mit dem Inhalt der Geschichte gemein hatten und einfach ... ja, da standen, wenig sinnhaft waren und mich nervten - und ich musste sie dennoch lesen, man könnte ja was wichtiges zwischen den Zeilen verpassen. Auf den letzten hundert Seiten etwa hatte die Geschichte dann zudem keinen einzigen roten Faden mehr, an dem ich mich persönlich langhangeln konnte. Mir kam es so vor, als hätte die Autorin ein Seiten-Limit auferlegt bekommen und hat für sich nur noch eine Checkliste abgearbeitet, mit Dingen, die man ja noch verwursteln könnte, damit man sie mal erwähnt hat: Liebesgeschichte, Rechtsstreit und andere Lapalien. Richtig schade fand ich auch die Entwicklung zwischen Normandy und ihrer Familie. Das Ende war schlicht und ergreifend mehr als abstruß. Punkt.

Ich hätte es besser gefunden, hätte sich Susan Juby auf einen Aspekt konzentriert, um diesen dann wirklich tiefgreifend auszubauen. Ich hatte einfach erwartet, dass es wirklich darum geht, die Wahrheit über sich selbst zu finden; dass es eine Moral wie "Fass dir erstmal an deine eigene Nase und kehre vor deiner eigenen Haustür" geben würde. Ich hatte aber auch erwartet, dass die Probleme in Normandy's Familie in irgendeiner Weise gelöst werden würden. Aber so? Die Geschichte wirkte am Ende einfach nur abgehakt, die Charaktere blass und nur wenig sympathisch. Ich habe letztlich zwei Sterne vergeben, denn der Grundplot war eine wirklich großartige Idee. Nur leider hat Susan Juby mit jeder Seite in Der Tag, als wir begannen die Wahrheit zu sagen mehr, immer weiter dran vorbei geschrieben. Ich würde das Buch womöglich nicht weiter empfehlen.
Profile Image for Anna.
358 reviews
July 16, 2020
I am left reeling by the unexpected and vicious turn this took near the end.
Profile Image for Nicole.
472 reviews10 followers
December 17, 2020
I liked this a lot. It had a fun, witty narrator with delightful footnotes throughout! I hadn't realised this was a Canadian author when I picked it up as I had seen it rec'd by some British book reviewers I follow. Really glad I came across this author and I hope to read more of her books.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
98 reviews10 followers
April 27, 2018
Re-read 4/26. This book officially takes spot #5 in my list of favourite books. There's so much of myself in here (to the point of making me uncomfortable at times) and I just felt so seen while reading it. But I still loved everything else about it too!!! It's just perfect in every way.
Do our stories belong to us?

This is one of the questions The Truth Commission provoked in me, but it's not the only one. It also asks us about heroes vs. villains, whether art is owned by the artist or its subjects, etc. It asks us to consider whether we can accept people lying to themselves and forgiving horrible wrongs. It makes you wonder to what extent you're a pawn for the people you love.

And all of this is wrapped up in the form of a light-hearted, amusing contemporary novel. Talk about defying expectations.

Our narrator is Normandy Pale, who attends a private art school in B.C. She's always been secondary to her sister, Keira, and her fame, but not only because of her sister's talent. No, her sister has taken the lives of Normandy and their family and turned them into exaggerated versions of themselves in her successful graphic novel series, The Diana Chronicles. Needless to say, Normandy doesn't like to discuss her sister with anyone, even her two best friends, Neil and Dusk.

The three of them, out of curiosity, form a group called The Truth Commission. The premise is simple: they go up to people they're interested in knowing something about (usually it's an issue the school has been speculating on) and they ask them to tell them their truth. Sometimes it goes well, and they get their answers, but other times, they're left hanging. Either way, it leads to a lot of hilarious and fascinating scenes that expose us to one of the central themes: people are all multi-faceted, with more than one truth.

It's all framed around Normandy's project of writing a piece of narrative non-fiction about her life. The whole thing is incredibly meta, with chapters announcing an info-dump and footnotes that point to amateur writing errors. The fact that Normandy is an amateur writer, though, is never an excuse for lazy writing. The writing is clever and funny, taking you down a light-hearted path and then twisting your head backwards when you realize quite how serious the situation you've ended up in as a reader is.

It made me think, as a writer, about who stories really belong to. The central conflict of the book is Normandy's struggle over Keira's gross depictions of her family in The Chronicles. I've often thought about whether I have the right to take the lives of my family and use them in my stories. If I change some of the words, exaggerate them into good and bad people, and change their names, does that make it okay? Would it have even been okay for 14-year-old-me to take the actions of the people who bullied me and write them into a book with just the names changed, as I so dearly wanted to? The Truth Commission begs us to consider whether or stories belong to us, or the people privy to them. Do we have the right to represent our own lives as we see fit, or are our stories just tangled up together into a giant web until someone is able break free and articulate them?

I loved everything from Normandy's voice to the incredible diversity to the fact that this is a popular novel set in Canada. My Canadian self got so excited every time I saw a reference to another Canadian university, because I like people to know we exist, too, ya know? On top of all of that, there's also a cute 'lil romance that never insists on taking over, which was such a relief.

This book is about truth. Truths that we're dying to share, truths that help us uncover more truths, and truths that we're not totally sure are completely true but we tell ourselves anyway because the alternative is scarier. Mostly, it's about the many different truths that make up the people around us, and the realization we need to decide which side we're going to believe; which truths will become our own.
Profile Image for Bradley X..
1 review
April 7, 2016
I have just read a very thoughtful, mind-twisting novel written by Susan Juby, titled, The Truth Commission. It is a adventurous mystery story uncovering secrets about everyone, mostly the protagonist's sister, Keira. The main plot of the story was about Normandy Pale and her friends, Dusk and Neil, making The Truth Commission which is a group that uncovers secrets that people hold. They uncover secrets like finding out if Brian Forbes takes drugs or which guy Prema Hardwick is going to pick as she loves these two guys that ski with her. But those are the little mysteries Normandy Pale wants to unveil, she wants to find out the secrets her sister is hiding from her and her family. With the help of her new friends, which are the people they got the truth from, they try to unveil all the secrets that Keira is hiding like the death one of her professors and if she was connected to his death. Normandy knew that Keira went hiking with him but that doesn't prove that she killed him. Keira told Normandy earlier in the book that her professor had raped her but was that the truth? Or is there more to it? What happened next wasn't that pleasing to Normandy.....

The Truth Commission a very complicated book and you have to read every single page in order to understand it. I think this is good and bad in a few ways. If there is a reader like me, who likes to skip a few pages to get to the plot, you won't truly understand the book. But luckily, this book really grabs your attention after a little while. What the best part of this book is that it gives a strong message to whoever reads it. People say that the truth hurts, but when it comes from the heart, it actually heals. In the book, Normandy and her friends find the truth from different people from their school and whenever the person tells them the truth, it seems to heal him/her. Another strength about the book is that it is very realistic and easy to connect to. I can imagine myself stepping into the protagonist's shoes and seeing everything from her perspective. I can imagine myself having an argument with my friends, just like Normandy, Neil and Dusk do. I really did like the style of Susan Juby's writing in first person perspective because that is what keeps the mysteries going on. I would recommend this book to advanced readers because some non-experienced readers might not understand the whole plot of the story.

I would give this book a three and a half rating because the book didn't have a beginning that grabbed my attention and make me want to read more. But farther in the book, it then got really interesting and grabbed my attention, which is why I rate this book a three and a half stars. On top of that is all the realistic things and how people have these problems once in a while. Even I experience things like this because I am like anyone else. So for the many reasons I shared, this book will stay with me forever as I will remember all the important lessons it teaches.

Profile Image for Emma.
119 reviews
January 31, 2016
4.5 stars

The Truth Commission was very thought-provoking. Normandy (Norm) is working on a nonfiction project (hence this book) for her crazy, artsy school. She and her friends Neil and Dusk are on a mission- a truth commission. They seek out their fellow art students in an attempt to make them admit truths that they've been hiding behind (it's much more complicated than that, but I gave it my best go).

While Norm and her friends go around trying to spread truth, it's soon apparent that Normandy has some delusions and secrets that she herself hides from. Kiera, Norm's sister, is a wildly successful graphic artist. Keira wrote and illustrated a series in which she unabashedly draws and describes in exaggerated detail the private lives of Normandy and their parents. Every little secret that Norm confided in Kiera and every embarrassing act Norm ever did is now blown up for the entire world. Talk about betrayal. Norm and their parents don't dare say a word, not wanting to disturb the fragile, prodigious Keira. In fact, Kiera came home from her prestigious school changed. She won't talk to them and she keeps herself locked in her room, or in her work space in Normandy and Kiera's joint closet.

As you can probably tell from my jumbled review, this book is hard to explain. There are so many factors that make it such a unique book in the YA genre. The friendships are complicated and real between Norm, Dusk, and Neil. Norm's humor is hilarious, and her insecurities completely relatable. The frustrating parental relationships, the vivid side-characters, the mysterious Kiera conundrum: they each add a compelling layer to the story. Also, the format of the footnotes was really enjoyable and fun. This is definitely not the norm (I apologize, I had to do it) in YA.

It took me longer than I expected (and longer than the book deserves) to finish The Truth Commission. I blame my attention span of a flea and my forgetfulness that this gem was in my shelves. Heh, maybe I should go look for other books I missed/forgot.
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590 reviews76 followers
November 10, 2016
Even though the characters were a hot mess, the plot and writing made this book much better than I thought it would be.

Keira was a megabitch. Just an awful, selfish piece of shit. I hated her so much.

Normandy was a little too into footnotes and seemed kind of immature sometimes but she wasn't all that bad, I liked her.

Neil was too much weird for me.

Dusk was self-obsessed and annoyed me,

The other characters all had their own individual stories and were complicated people. Even though the narrator was too fond of footnotes, the writing was well done and engaging.
3,794 reviews20 followers
May 5, 2015
An amazingly compelling book for me! Normandy's narrative voice is the pivot around which everything else works in the story. There are so many fascinating elements to think about in this book like truth - what is it and what is its importance and its impact, creativity and what the artist owes to his gift, how much should be sacrificed to artistic inspiration and who decides? And then there are more mundane things like family dynamics, friendship, and trust. Juby manages all these big issues through the voice of a charmingly self-deprecating and very funny teen whose growth and self-discovery is at the heart of all the questions.

Terrific book for a book club!
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