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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Review: Almost True

Author: Keren David

Release date: 2nd September 2010
Genre: Crime / Thriller / Realism / YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Summary from Amazon:
Ruthless killers are hunting Ty so the police move him and his mum to a quiet seaside town. But a horrific attack and a bullet meant for Ty prove that he’s not safe. On the road again, Ty’s in hiding with complete strangers . . . who seem to know a lot about him. Meanwhile he’s desperate to see his girlfriend Claire, and terrified that she may betray him. Ty can’t trust his own judgement and he’s making dangerous decisions that could deliver him straight to the gangsters. A thrilling sequel to When I Was Joe, shot through with drama and suspense.


Almost True is yet another powerful, utterly compelling novel from Keren David. For me, it is really a novel of our time and of our culture. I loved it.

Ty’s story as a witness to a crime takes him forward from his life as Joe in Keren’s first novel When I Was Joe. The exciting, liberating experience of being Joe has been left behind. At the beginning of Almost True, Ty is Jake - a lost boy living by the sea. He is frightened and he has every reason to be because the gang members who he is expected to testify against want him dead and they will go to any lengths to make it so.

At its heart Almost True is a thriller. It is a novel about a boy being persecuted by criminals. But for me, it is so much more. It is a novel which can be read in different ways. I think it depends on your personal history and what you bring to the book as a reader.

The first theme that spoke to me in this novel was family. You know that saying “every family has its secrets” well that can be said of Ty’s family (and possibly my own but we won’t go there). This novel explores Ty’s relationship with many different characters – new ones that he meets and old ones who have expectations of him. Sometimes it is the people that know us best that it is hardest to be truthful with. We don’t want to let them down. We don’t want to admit we’ve made mistakes. This is true of Ty. Goodness, I expect it true of most people.

The second theme that spoke to me in this novel is truth. As we follow Ty, we realise that the truth isn’t always the rigid thing we think to be. Every person sees their own truth, remembers their own truth. They may choose to hide that knowledge or they may share it but that doesn’t mean that anyone else will believe it. We remember things from our past but it is within the human condition to create false memories. But when we knowingly lie, it can have huge psychological implications. Keren explores the effect of deceit on the human psyche, crafting the darkness of insanity with precision and tenderness.

The third theme that I felt was hugely important in this novel is society. Almost True is a novel of now. It explores this very moment in British culture when our politics is full of rhetoric on knife crime and violent teenagers, a generation of disaffected youths and the scourge of our broken society. For that reason, as well as Ty’s journey, it is a compelling and emotional read. Keren has written the truth of our lives – from cultural references about Strictly Come Dancing to the sensationalism of our tabloid newspapers – and narrated it so believably you can taste it.

I’ve read Almost True twice now and even though I knew what was going to happen the second time around, I still didn’t want to stop reading. What more can I say? Keren David is a master of suspenseful, contemporary writing. If you want to see the dark side of the world we live in, look no further. This book will take you there. But there is also hope because not everything the politicians and media tell us is true. And that is why I love Keren David and why she deserves our admiration and respect.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wonderful review! I like a good thriller, and I'm happy if a thriller has depth. This novel definitely seems to offer it with the three themes you pointed out that it explores. Lies are not complicated, but what they cause is complication and destruction. I'm glad the author explored lies too, especially in relation to the UK of now. This sounds interesting! I have to check out this author in the future.

Elaine AM Smith said...

This is a superb review. Detailed without giving too much, as intriguing as the book sounds.

Lea (YA Book Queen) said...

Awesome review! I loved the first book, so I'm thrilled to see a positive review for the sequel. =)

Cliona said...

Thanks for following my blog!

Lauren said...

You've summed this one up brilliantly, and I completely agree about Keren David as an author. Both of these books are amazing gripping reads *and* important books for right now.

Caroline said...

Absolutely wonderful review - I have read Almost True a couple of weeks ago and I really fell for Keren David's talent. She brings so much to the story in terms of characters and cultural references and at the same time, chooses to write on very important subjects.
I felt both novels were very "British" and I love when books make you learn things!
I really loved your comment on truth in the book.
Yay :)