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The Size of the Truth
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The Size of the Truth
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A boy who spent three days trapped in a well tries to overcome his PTSD and claustrophobia so he can fulfill his dream of becoming a famous chef in Andrew Smith's first middle grade novel.When he was...
A boy who spent three days trapped in a well tries to overcome his PTSD and claustrophobia so he can fulfill his dream of becoming a famous chef in Andrew Smith's first middle grade novel.When he was...
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Description-

  • A boy who spent three days trapped in a well tries to overcome his PTSD and claustrophobia so he can fulfill his dream of becoming a famous chef in Andrew Smith's first middle grade novel.
    When he was four years old, Sam Abernathy was trapped at the bottom of a well for three days, where he was teased by a smart-aleck armadillo named Bartleby. Since then, his parents plan every move he makes.

    But Sam doesn't like their plans. He doesn't want to go to MIT. And he doesn't want to skip two grades, being stuck in the eighth grade as an eleven-year-old with James Jenkins, the boy he's sure pushed him into the well in the first place. He wants to be a chef. And he's going to start by entering the first annual Blue Creek Days Colonel Jenkins Macaroni and Cheese Cook-Off.

    That is, if he can survive eighth grade, and figure out the size of the truth that has slipped Sam's memory for seven years.

About the Author-

  • Andrew Smith is the author of several novels for young adults, including Winger, Stand-Off, 100 Sideways Miles, and the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Grasshopper Jungle. He lives in a remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs, and three cats. He doesn't watch television, and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2018
    Sam Abernathy is uncomfortable. He's uncomfortable in school, having skipped two grades to become the only 11-year-old in eighth grade. He's uncomfortable going on extreme survivalist camping trips with his dad. He's uncomfortable with the notion that his parents assume he'll be going to MIT when all he wants to do is become a chef. But none of this compares to the three days he spent stuck at the bottom of a well when he was 4. The novel toggles between Sam's subterranean adventure and his experience in eighth grade befriending the lumbering James Jenkins (the boy Sam blames for sending him down the well all those years ago). The two white boys embark on a curious relationship, and while the author is adept at filling in small details here and there with flourishes, the big picture does not coalesce. Are the flashbacks to preternaturally self-aware 4-year-old Sam's days in the well meant to represent reality? Or are they meant to be 11-year-old Sam's understanding of the events as he remembers them? Either way, how does the talking armadillo fit in? The shades of characterization given to Sam, his parents, and their small Texas town create a setting for an exploration of toxic masculinity that doesn't cohere. Sam's cooking is (anachronistically?) regarded by his father as stereotypically unmanly; James is forced to play football instead of dancing. Sam's coy repetitions of "(excuse me)" instead of curse words work against believable characterization. Smith's first middle grader is a frustrating misfire. (Fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2019

    Gr 5-8-In his imaginative, though at times flimsy, middle grade debut, Smith explores the backstory of Sam Abernathy, who first appeared in the 2015 YA novel Stand-Off. Seven years after falling into an abandoned well, 11-year-old Sam Abernathy can't shake his reputation around town as "Well Boy," especially now that he is in the same class as James Jenkins, who was partially to blame for the well incident. On top of that, Sam is stuck living the life his parents have planned for him, and Sam's desire to become a chef is nowhere in their blueprints. As Sam seizes an opportunity to make his cooking dreams come true, he begins to piece together recollections of the past that change the way he sees his own life and the people in it. Though Sam is a likeable character, readers may struggle to find the depiction of him as a four-year-old believable. Sam's inner thoughts as well as his dialogue with Bartleby, the sassy armadillo whose role throughout Sam's life remains unclear, are more typical of a young teenager than a small child. Still, Smith manages to deliver a unique story with moments that are both endearing and humorous. Readers may appreciate seeing two young male characters who defy the expectations for masculinity set by the people around them in favor of pursuing their true passions. VERDICT Though it fails to reach its full potential, this is a feel-good story with a quirky edge that will leave readers with a smile.-Lauren Hathaway, University of British Columbia

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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