Book Review – Some Kind of Courage

255784084 stars. Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart is equal parts adventurous, thrilling, and touching. All that young Joseph Johnson has left of his family is his pony Sarah, and now she’s been sold to a no-count horse trader against his will. He sets off to get her back, encountering bandits, whitewater, a grizzly, and other dangers, as well as unexpected friendship and sense of belonging.

Gemeinhart’s talent is that he writes both action and emotion very well. Told in Joseph’s folksy first-person narration, the book is readable both for the theme and the plot. I tore through it fairly quickly, starting it in the evening and finishing it on lunch break the next day, excited to read both the bittersweet and the valedictory moments of Joseph’s adventure.

The only real flaw of the book is that there are some moments that feel a little “Chicken Soup for the Soul”-esque, slightly overwrought with morality and message. Neither bad nor emotionally manipulative, mind you, just a little sweetly maudlin.

I continue to be impressed with Dan Gemeinhart’s writing; he’s talented with words, characters, and story. Some Kind of Courage is one of those books that is instantly appealing. Recommended for adventure and animal lovers of all ages.

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Book Review – The Honest Truth

22571259Dan Gemeinhart’s The Honest Truth is sweet, meaningful, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Feeling overwhelmed due to a return of his cancer and facing its harsh, uncertain treatment, 12 year old Mark and his dog Beau slip away on a bus to climb Mount Rainier.

The strength of this book is that Mark is easily believable and likeable. Gemeinhart makes us understand why Mark makes the choices he does, and invites us to empathize with him. We’re not sure whether to root for him to make it to the top, die on the mountain on his own terms, or be found by the searchers. We admire his strength and his carefully considered plan, as well as his resilience when the plan meets reality.

The Honest Truth is a little pat, a little hokey, and a little predictable in an afterschool special sort of way, but its earnest sweetness is enjoyable nonetheless.