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Faraway Truth by Janae Marks

A brown child sits at a desk writingA review by Emma Streeton

Zoe Washington never met her father. He was sent to prison right before she was born and she has had no contact with him since. So when she receives a letter from him on her twelfth birthday it is a huge surprise. Zoe’s mum always told her that her father Marcus was a liar and a monster. But how can this be true when in his letter he seems so nice? Through secretly writing to her father, Zoe begins to investigate the crime he was convicted of. The deeper she digs, the more she doubts the conviction. Is her father innocent? Or is he a liar? Zoe is determined to find out the faraway truth.

This is a book that explores big social issues in a gentle way. Racism, prejudice and social injustice are all seen and explored through the eyes of 12-year-old Zoe. She is a believable and engaging protagonist, one I think middle grade readers will relate to. Like most kids, Zoe has a few friendship issues to deal with. Her relationship with her ex-best friend Trevor works well to highlight the struggles of friendship and the hurt this can cause.

The verdict

I read this book without the company of my bookworms. It is definitely a book I look forward to sharing with them in the future when they are a bit older. The Faraway Truth provides a platform for talking with young people about social injustices and the role that inequality and racism can play. It teaches the very hard truth that people can be put in prison when they are innocent and the difficult journey to prove this has happened.

I think The Faraway Truth is ideal for 11 – 13 year olds. It prompts reflection and raises questions about society. I recommend this intelligent, honest book that is full of little surprises.

Editor’s note: The author’s and publisher’s websites recommend The Faraway Truth for readers 9 and older. 

Book details

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Paperback ISBN: 9781912626380
ebook ISBN: 9781912626908
Imprint: Chicken House Books
Released: 2020
Category: Middle Grade Target Age: 9+, racism, injustice

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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