The honest truth is honestly a suspenseful yet touching read


Photo Credit: Sarah Quiceno

Winning the Young Readers’ Choice Awards for this novel along with the 2019 Parents’ Choice Award Gold Medal for some of one of his other pieces, author Dan Gemeinhart has come a long way since his former elementary school librarian days and is an accomplished and successful writer. He has published 5 novels with a 6th to be expected at the end of August 2022.

By: Sarah Quiceno, Reporter

The Honest Truth is a fictional novel written by Dan Gemeinhart. The story is centered around a 12-year-old cancer-ridden boy named Mark. The novel entails the details of his runaway from home to fulfill his dream of climbing Mount Rainer before he dies. It’s based on a relative of the author who suffered from cancer and shared Mark’s love of mountain climbing.


The Honest Truth takes place in Washington state when Mark runs away from home at night. He takes his dog, Beau, with him who later proves to be a vital companion for him on his journey. After Mark received news that the cancer he’s had to battle all his life has returned, he decided to run away. He saw this as his only way to fulfill his lifelong goal of climbing Mount Rainer before he’s stuck in a hospital again.

As Mark’s journey goes on we see police getting involved in the search of the missing cancer boy. However, Mark is somehow able to remain undiscovered. This doesn’t mean that Mark hasn’t had to face any challenges along the way. Mark lacks money, the proper supplies to climb up the mountain, and food throughout almost all of his journey. Not to mention a young boy and his dog wandering about alone in a strange city definitely leads to question how safe Mark is.

As the journey nears its end, Mark only seems to be getting sicker and weaker. While climbing the mountain, the safety of both Mark and his dog, Beau, are at an all time low. Amazingly, it’s his loyal companion, Beau, that saves Mark. If it wasn’t for Beau he would’ve made the terrible mistake of climbing all the way up the mountain. This would’ve very well have killed Mark. At the end of the novel, we find out that Mark’s childhood best friend, Jess, writes his miraculous story for him which is called, The Honest Truth.


The Honest Truth is a wonderful read fit for middle school-aged readers. The novel isn’t juvenile as it really makes you reflect on your life. You start to question your own struggles and compare them to someone who has gone through so much. The book also makes you wonder how far you’d go for something you really want in comparison to the great lengths Mark does. Seeing a sick boy be so vulnerable, yet so determined is truly inspiring. It definitely brought some emotional moments out of me while reading. The suspense of whether he’ll survive long enough to make it to the mountain, and then whether or not he’ll survive long enough to be rescued will leave you too impatient for answers. You won’t be able to put the book down until you read the next chapter.

The only suggestion I would make to this novel is to make it slightly more realistic at times. Though the novel is realistic fiction, there are moments throughout the book that seem too unrealistic to actually occur. For example, how long it took for the police to finally find a young boy who was wandering about aimlessly. At one point Mark even calls into the tip-line set up to find him, and yet he’s still not found until much later on.

Overall, I would rate this novel a 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy, yet emotional roller coaster of a read. This book will definitely make you reevaluate how you see your life and all you take for granted every day. I definitely recommend it!