Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Nothing But the Truth by Dick Lehr Book Review

I'm starting the new year with a review of a fantastic YA book from author Dick Lehr, his latest novel, Nothing But the Truth is a gripping tale about one young girls immense fight for justice her father. 

What would you do if you knew someone had been wrongly convicted of murder?

nothing-but-the-truth

Trell Taylor was just a baby when her father was convicted of murder, but she's always known he's innocent. And now she wants to prove it.

Not everyone wants to see justice served, however, and Trell's investigation soon attracts unwanted attention. With so much at stake, she'll stop for nothing but the truth - if only she can find the answers she needs in time.

Something that you should know before you read is that Dick Lehr worked for the Boston Globe's spotlight team, where he actually helped to crack the case that inspired this tale, that's right it is actually based on the true story of a young man's false murder conviction.


And for me this piece of information makes the novel all the more compelling.

The story begins with Trell and her mum on Big Vinnie's bus and as we quickly learn, they are on the way to prison to visit Trell's dad, a man who has been locked away since Trell was a small baby . . . 

One hot summer night in Boston, a thirteen year old girl became the innocent victim of gang-related gunfire. Amid public outcry, an immediate manhunt was on to catch the murderer and a suspect was quickly apprehended, charged and wrongly convicted of the crime.

Twelve years after Romero Taylor's imprisonment, his daughter sets herself a mission to prove his innocence. 

Trell is a smart and determined young lady. She manages to persuade both reporter Clemens Bittner and lawyer Nora Walsh to invest their time in helping her clear her father's name.

"Daddy," I would ask, "when you comin' home?"

As they begin to build a case against the original conviction many things are revealed that unfortunately won't have been a one off. They uncover back-door deals, track down crucial witnesses that have been coerced into saying things that simply weren't truth and vital evidence is unearthed that someone obviously wanted to remain buried. 

The real question though, will all of this evidence prove her father’s innocence?

You are no friend of mine for I am poor, black, ignorant and slow, not your kind, you yourself have told me so, no friend of mine.

It became crystal clear as I turned the pages that there were some not so wholesome people shall we say that were just as determined to keep certain information and witnesses hidden at any cost and this in turn spells out danger for Trell and her new found 'colleagues'.

Aimed at children aged 12 and above, this novel is Dick's first book for teenagers and for me I found it to be written in a clear and concise way, making it accessible to both younger and older audiences.

With talk of gangs, race and cultures there are many discussion points within the book, I think it would be a great book to be used in schools.

"I'm going to explain something that should get you wondering about police and justice - if you have an open mind."

Endorsed by Amnesty International, what the author has managed to do is showcase the fact that there are huge failures in our public systems and policies but as you read you are left with a sense of hope and pride, knowing that for all the bad out there, good still prevails.

Nothing But the Truth is a novel that is nothing less than remarkable. Certainly not what most would consider the 'usual' YA book, it is wonderfully refreshing, suspenseful and has a beautifully brave protagonist to boot.

I'm telling you, this is going to be a must read for a wide audience this year!

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