By Bill Konigsberg
Available now from Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)
Read my review of Openly Straight
Last year I read a Bill Konigsberg novel for the first time. OPENLY STRAIGHT was a good summer read, but not one of my favorites of the year or anything. His recent release, THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, still caught my attention with its adorable cover and a blurb that promised an epic road trip.
The story starts when Carson's mom leaves him at the zoo. They've come to Billings, Montana for the summer to help his dying father in his final days, and she needs to ditch him for a bit to take care of things. At the zoo Carson meets Aisha, who has been kicked out by her father because she's a lesbian. It's the beginning of a fast friendship between two weirdos with similarly off-beat senses of humor.
Yes, there is an epic road trip. Carson and Aisha set out to find what happened to Carson's grandfather. He was a missing person, but they found evidence in the basement that he was in contact with his wife after he officially disappeared. I liked that their road trip encounters a lot of problems, including car trouble and difficulty finding places to stay. It's a pretty realistic road trip for two teenagers without many resources and rapidly dwindling parental approval.
There is a lot of religious discussion, which doesn't bother me, but I know isn't everyone's cup of tea. Carson doesn't really believe in anything, and Aisha is turning against her childhood beliefs since her very Christian father treated her in such an un-Christlike way. On their road trip, they encounter people who believe a variety of different things and discuss them. I thought it was a good reflection of reality and very revealing of all the characters.
THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH is a very funny novel that tackles tough subjects like alcoholism, homeless LGBTQ youth, and racism. (Aisha is black.) The irreverent tone balances the dark matter without being disrespectful of it. Definitely worth a read.