Completed 1/11/2017 Reviewed 1/12/2017
This juvenile fantasy novel is a delightful story chock full of social issues. Predominantly, it is a tale about lying and telling the truth. Charlie is a boy who lies all the time. One day, he steals a magic skull, although he’s never stolen anything in his life before this. The skull forces the people around it to tell the truth. Of course, telling the truth gets him into as much trouble as lying did, especially since no one really believes him. The skull’s influence also rubs off on the people in Charlie’s life, like his family. So Charlie must navigate his life until he can find a way to part with the skull.
What amazed me most about this book was its level of sophistication. Besides the lying theme, the story also deals with cancer, the environment, and gay issues. It made me wonder if this book wouldn’t be better suited for a tweener than juvenile. But I applaud the author for an excellent job writing a book that deals with these issues. He uses humor and compassion, creating a wonderful learning opportunity for the main character and the reader.
SPOILER ALERT: The one issue discussed in the book that I had a problem with was when at a family dinner, with the skull nearby, everyone begins speaking only the truth. The great-grandmother blurts out that she was a stripper. While really comical, this is the primary reason for thinking the book should be read by tweeners rather than younger children. But it made for a terrifically funny scene, which eventually lead to the poignant part with the gay uncle coming out.
I give this book four out of five stars. It had terrific characters and was wonderfully written. I read it in a day and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s funny but teaches important lessons. It was a joy to read after the couple of really heavy books I just finished.