cover image The Porcupine of Truth

The Porcupine of Truth

Bill Konigsberg. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-545-64893-6

Konigsberg (Openly Straight) eloquently explores matters of family, faith, and sexuality through the story of 17-year-old Carson Smith, whose therapist mother has dragged him from New York City to Billings, Mont., where his alcoholic father is dying. After Carson meets Aisha, whose conservative Christian father threw her out of the house when he discovered she is a lesbian, the teens embark on a multistate road trip, chasing down fragmentary clues that might lead them to find Carson’s long-absent grandfather. Strained parent-child relationships are laced throughout this story—on top of Carson and Aisha’s anger toward their respective fathers, Carson’s mother only talks to him in detached therapyspeak (“I truly hear underneath the sarcasm that you’re feeling pain, Carson”), and Carson’s father hasn’t put his own paternal abandonment behind him. Bouts of humor leaven the characters’ intense anguish in a story that will leave readers thinking about inherited traits (whether an oddball sense of humor or a tendency to overdrink), the fuzzy lines between youth and adulthood, and the individual nature of faith. Ages 14–up. Agent: Linda Epstein, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (May)