Home Truths by Jill MacLean

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Book Reviews, Nova Scotia | 0 comments

hometruths Summary: Brick’s got one thing on his mind – following through on his plan to make enough money to move out as soon as he’s legally able to. Under the thumb of his physically and verbally abusive father, Brick’s anger and frustration finds expression in his bullying of other ‘weaker’ kids. His younger sister Cassie brings out his softer side, and he’ll do anything to protect her. An odd job expands Brick’s circle, and shows him that things can be different as more and more people begin to support him. When he finds out the previously unthinkable is happening, Brick finds the courage to take a stand and draw his line in the sand, knowing he finally has others to back him up.

Number of Pages: 278

Age Range: 15-17

Review: I know we’re talking about a ten year age gap here, but I love Jill MacLean’s portrayal of sibling relationships in Home Truths, just as I did in Nix Minus One. Kudos to MacLean, because conveying such a close brother/sister relationship is even more difficult when the sister is only four. I know the cover for Home Truths has changed now, but the one I have pictured here is my favourite; it is apt and touching.

This is a powerful and disturbing read. Brick’s journey from isolated bully/punching bag to a mature young man with friends and support is well-detailed and worth reading about.

Perhaps the most surprising part of MacLean’s book was the revelation of Floyd’s point-of-view of the abuse he inflicts on Brick near the end of the novel. Despite the fact that we know Floyd has also been abused as a child, he is an unsympathetic character and remains one, but I appreciated MacLean’s explanation of his actions.

The first time I read this book, there was one major plot point that threw me. Brick is only 14, striving to get out of the house when he turns 16. But Brick seems very mature for his age throughout the book, and I questioned whether a fourteen year-old would have been able to bulk up enough to physically take on his adult father even with the karate. The second time I read it (today) I replaced 14 with 16 and 16 with 18 and the story just flowed. At times it is a difficult read though because of the scenes of violence against children and the incident with the dog. Lots of gut-wrenching moments.

The age discrepancy makes it difficult to pin down an age range, but with the mature themes of abuse I would recommend it for mid-teens or older even though Brick is a younger character.

Memorable Quotes:

“Let’s get this over with. I’m a reader. Nonfiction mostly, because I like to hoard information. I’ve tried novels, but you can’t trust the facts any more than you can trust the authors to keep the emotional lid on. I’ve even tried poetry. Lids off and toss ’em in the air, that’s what poetry’s all about.

Although I own an old-fashioned boom box with a CD player and an AM/FM radio, I don’t own a laptop, iPod, iPhone, or Blackberry, and Floyd hogs the TV – what else is there to do every evening from November to April except read?” – Brick from Home Truths by Jill MacLean, page 3

“‘Why did you put the pallets there?’ he says, pleasantly enough.

‘So last year’s wood is nearest the cellar door?’ Declarative statements can be dangerous. They don’t teach you this in grade eight English.” – conversation between Floyd and Brick from Home Truths by Jill MacLean, page 16

“Fear is what I live with, fear that sometimes hibernates and sometimes claws me like a grizzly.” – Brick from Home Truths by Jill MacLean, page 95

“I haven’t told Docker I run every day except Sunday – my secret. The way it makes me feel – like there’s hope, like there’s something I can do right – is my secret too.” – Brick from Home Truths by Jill MacLean, page 175

“I’m tied to her. We’re in this together and no way out.

My little sister. Who came to my rescue.

I rub my cheek on her hair. I love Cassie.

Well yeah, of course I do. I just never put it into words before.” – Brick from Home Truths by Jill MacLean, page 182

“If responsibility is the heaviest word in the dictionary, hope is the scariest.” – Brick from Home Truths by Jill MacLean, page 234

Home Truths by Jill MacLean is published by Dancing Cat Books (2010).
(Buy this book: Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Booksellers)

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