Wednesday, February 27, 2019

One Speck of Truth

Carter, Caela. One Speck of Truth
March 5th 2019 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Alma has been raised by her single mother since the death of her Portuguese father when she was young. Her mother had attended college in Lisbon, where the two met, and has steadfastly refused to answer any questions about Alma's father. She won't even say where he is buried, which has led to an obsession with finding this out. Alma's best friend Julia always sticks by her. Recently, the mother has split from Adam, her husband, who was very fond of Alma but will not tell her why he is no longer living with them. Since Julia is Adam's niece, Alma manages to get a little information. Alma's mother is not doing well, working from home a lot, dropping Alma off at Julia's, and selling the furniture piece by piece. When Alma is not registered for the school bus on the first day of school, her mother finally tells her that they are moving to Portugal to meet her grandmother. Alma is a bit scared, but also glad that her questions might finally be answered, since she often "talks" to the idea of her father. When the two get to Portugal, Alma gets to meet a cousin, go to school, and checks the cemeteries to no avail. Perhaps the reason she can't find a grave for her father is because he is still alive.
Strengths: Like this author's Forever, or a Long, Long Time , the writing is strong. Alma is a self-sufficient character who is raising herself in the face of very bad parenting. It's good that she has a support network in her mother's parents and in Adam, who won't answer questions but reassures her that she is loved and that he will be there if there is a problem. The brief glimpses of life in Portugal are fascinating.
Weaknesses: I have a lot of students whose fathers are not in the picture, and Alma's obsession with her father seems a bit unusual. The treatment of the mother by her parents and the shame over Alma's birth seemed very odd-- she would have been born in about 2006. I wish more had been addressed about the mother's mental health-- clearly, something is very wrong, and Alma needs even more support.
What I really think: Not sure about this one. Debating.

Ms. Yingling

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