Well, I suppose that I ought to start with the truth. I had the pleasure of reading and commenting on an earlier version of THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMAN SCHOOL because Dori Butler and I are in an on-line critique group together. Here’s what I wrote then:
“Would you believe that I read the whole thing already? I’m afraid that I didn’t read it carefully. I read it like a reader, wondering about the mystery of who did what to whom and when. I wound up making about five comments and then giving up and just reading. I can attach the file, so you can see just about when you really set the hook and I stopped worrying about punctuation and so on. ”
So I clearly thought that the earlier draft was pretty fabulous. Yes, I did share a few concerns about plot, characterization and so on even after that glowing opening paragraph. Plus, I actually did go back and do a line edit for Dori about a week later. So I wound up reading this story about cyber-bullying at least twice at that point.
When Zebby and Amr launch a news site for their middle school, they do it with the best of intentions. Zebby is so frustrated with having to produce the perky, positive articles that her school paper’s advisor insists on that she winds up quitting. To get the truth about middle school out there, she only has two rules for her site:
“Rule #1: Whatever you post had to be your original work.
Rule #2: Whatever you post had to be the truth. The truth about our school as you see it.”
So ‘What is truth?’ as one official from ancient Rome inquired. Zebby and Amr get both more and less of it than they could ever expect as someone targets a student named Lilly. I found the use of multiple viewpoints to be gripping and persuasive. While I never found the “mean girls” in this book to be sympathetic when they shared their angle of events, I could see that they were still just as worried about their place in middle school society as anyone.
When I bought a copy of this book during Dori’s signing at the American Library Association National Conference in Chicago over the summer, she seemed a bit surprised. “You’ve already read it,” she said.
She was right. But as a writer, I know that the story isn’t locked in until it’s printed. Dori and her editor did add some things and took out others. And so I wound up getting caught up in the story again when I held the bound copy in my hands because I wasn’t sure what would happen to all the characters until the last pages.