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Three Things I Know Are True
Cover of Three Things I Know Are True
Three Things I Know Are True
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Fans of Jandy Nelson and Marieke Nijkamp will love this deeply moving novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun accident.Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally...
Fans of Jandy Nelson and Marieke Nijkamp will love this deeply moving novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun accident.Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally...
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Description-

  • Fans of Jandy Nelson and Marieke Nijkamp will love this deeply moving novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun accident.

    Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay's father's gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv feels like she's the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.

    With Liv's mom suing Clay's family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she's not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.

    This powerful novel is a stunning exploration of tragedy, grief, compassion, and forgiveness.

About the Author-

  • Betty Culley lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns. She's an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She went into foster care at nine months old and was adopted three years later. As an adult, she was found by five siblings she never knew she had. Visit her online at www.bettyculley.com.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2019

    Gr 9 Up-This leisurely paced novel in verse follows two families (the Carriers and the LeBlancs) who are affected by the accidental shooting of 17-year-old Jonah Carrier. Liv, Jonah's 15-year-old sister, shares the heartbreak of watching her brother struggle through being machine- and nurse-dependent since he accidentally shot himself with his best friend Clay's father's gun, and she explains the toll this accident has taken on both families. Clay experiences heavy guilt and responsibility for Jonah's condition. Clay's mom doesn't know how to converse with and support the Carriers while she copes with Clay's behavior. Jonah's mother is in denial about her son's condition. Liv experiences her own withdrawal from school but finds purpose in taking care of her brother. While these families are dealing with the trauma of the shooting they are also preparing for Jonah's trial, which places everyone against each other, including members within their small community. Liv is immature and can be easily viewed as childish. As a teenager, Liv calls her brother's machines by silly nicknames such as "Suck-It-Up" and "Trapeze," and refers to her brother's gunshot wound as his "boo-boo" throughout the story. The romance between Liv and Clay doesn't seem to fit considering the trial, the shooting, and how everyone deals with Jonah's condition. VERDICT A heartbreaking story about a topic that is too prevalent in today's society.-Kharissa Kenner, Bank Street School for Children, New York

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 11, 2019
    In eloquent narrative verse, this debut set in a small, working-class Maine community recounts the reverberations of a gun accident that leaves 17-year-old Jonah severely brain damaged and on life support. The narrator, Jonah’s 15-year-old sister, Liv, struggles to comprehend her new reality: her teachers’ voices sound “like buzzing.../ all the words blending together/ into one big GRAH.” Jonah now lives in the family’s living room, dependent on round-the-clock nurses for survival, and letters to the editor blame Jonah’s parents’ negligent teaching for the accident. Meanwhile, Jonah’s best friend, Clay, in whose attic Jonah accidentally shot himself, is forbidden to visit because Liv’s mother, desperate for money to pay for Jonah’s care, is suing Clay’s parents. Frustrated that her mother pays “more attention/ to Jonah’s machines/ than to Jonah,” Liv remains convinced that “Jonah is in there.” Liv’s resilience grows with her gradual recognition of her own inner resources; Jonah’s indomitable spirit; Clay’s quiet, steadfast friendship; and the supportive network that embraces her family. Culley, who has worked as a pediatric hospice nurse, deftly captures the community’s nuanced responses and the heartbreak both families navigate as this devastating tragedy becomes a political battleground. Ages 13–up.

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2019
    After her brother is injured in a gun accident, a teen--and her town--grapples with the aftermath in Culley's debut. Fifteen-year-old Liv's older brother, Jonah, had always been a daredevil--until he accidentally shot himself with a gun belonging to his best friend Clay's dad. Now, severely brain damaged, he requires expensive round-the-clock care. Despite Jonah's largely passive state, Liv accords him as much agency as possible, helping him to "have his say." As the trial to determine who's responsible approaches, residents of former mill town Maddigan, Maine, vehemently defend their right to own guns. But firearm debates are only the surface of this character-driven drama. Introspective and inquisitive Liv's free-verse narration vividly explores the rift between her family and Clay's; memories of her late father; and the difficulty of surviving in her economically depressed small town. Above all, her spare, blunt lines convey her love for Jonah; her exhaustion and loneliness as her friends and overworked, overwhelmed mother grow distant; and the nuances of guilt and forgiveness. Liv's struggle with the "little animal / inside" her that yearns for attention even as she acknowledges that Jonah "needs everything" is piercingly realistic. Fortunately, kind--if somewhat one-dimensional--secondary characters offer support, and Liv and Clay's gradual romance is touching. The ending offers bittersweet but satisfying closure. Most characters appear white; one of Liv's friends is Indian American. A poignant, humanizing exploration of a sadly timely issue. (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2019
    Grades 9-12 For the last five months, Liv has been caring for her brother, Jonah, after his recklessness with a neighbor's gun resulted in a near-mortal head wound. Now debilitated, Jonah requires 24/7 support just to stay alive. Making matters worse, Liv's mother is balancing a lawsuit against the neighbor with her efforts to keep her family out of poverty. One of Liv's few lifelines is the neighbor's son, Clay, in whom she secretly confides her fears: Will a split-second decision by her brother determine how she will live the rest of her life? Told in verse, this first novel takes readers on an emotional journey that follows a life-altering tragedy. Culley weaves carefully chosen details into a slowly forming tapestry that depicts a town decaying after its main industry has shuttered, leaving the community hopeless and its youth desperate to escape its soul-crushing despair. The story also highlights how tragedies linger long after headlines forget them. Culley has crafted a tale that is both harrowing in subject matter and elegant in execution.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

    "Culley's compelling free-verse poems accumulate into a poignant story of a family that was already struggling and then transformed into something unrecognizable. Liv's narration is touching, honest, and perceptive. A story of love and resilience as much as loss and grief." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

    "Piercingly realistic. A poignant, humanizing exploration of a sadly timely issue." — Kirkus Reviews

    "An emotional journey that follows a life-altering tragedy. Culley weaves carefully chosen details into a slowly forming tapestry. A tale that is both harrowing in subject matter and elegant in execution." — ALA Booklist

    "A heartbreaking story about a topic that is too prevalent in today's society." — School Library Journal

    "Eloquent narrative verse. Culley deftly captures the community's nuanced responses and the heartbreak both families navigate as this devastating tragedy becomes a political battleground." — Publishers Weekly

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