There are many novels that try to achieve that delicate balance between light-hearted humor and emotional depth. Most do an okay job, but none that I’ve read strike the balance as well as Bill Konigsberg’s The Porcupine of Truth, a book that, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful young adult novels in the last decade. The Porcupine of Truth tells the story of Carson Smith, a teen who moves along with his mother from New York to Montana to spend the summer with his estranged father. Carson’s dad’s health is quickly deteriorating due to his alcoholism and the emotional stress that came with the disappearance of his own father years ago. Because of this, Carson thinks his summer is going to be awkward and difficult. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a girl who sleeps in the zoo after being kicked out by her father for being gay. The two of them form a connection instantly, and Aisha ends up moving in with Carson. Later, they discover some secrets about Carson’s grandfather, and decide to make it their mission to find out the truth about where he is after he left more than thirty years ago. They embark on a remarkable journey across multiple states that will change their lives as forever.
To be completely honest, I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about The Porcupine of Truth. Carson and Aisha are an incredibly dynamic duo and are both witty, relatable, and very heartwarming. The book’s great sense of humor made me laugh, but it also accomplished something more. Humor was not only used as an attractive point but was made an integral part of Carson’s character as both a strength and a shortcoming, which I felt was genius. The most important thing about this book and the thing that makes it special to me is the fact that it delivers powerful, enlightening messages. The book touches upon such topics as the way we view and practice spirituality and how we form and keep the bonds that tie us together. In particular, the way it approaches the relationship between religion and the way we treat people is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it truly struck me personally. I see no reason not to read The Porcupine of Truth. It will break your heart and mend it again. It will make you laugh and will make you cry. It is simultaneously down-to-Earth and a bringer of wisdom from high up in the heavens.
Submitted by Lauren Leon