Posted in book reviews

The Truth Project – Dante Medema

Seventeen-year-old Cordelia Koenig was sure of many things going into her last year of high school. For one, she wasn’t going to stress over the senior project all her peers were dreading—she’d just use the same find-your-roots genealogy idea that her older sister used for hers. Secondly, she’d put all that time spent not worrying about the project toward getting reacquainted with former best friend and longtime crush Kodiak Jones who, conveniently, gets assigned as Cordelia’s partner.

All she has to do is mail in her DNA sample, write about her ancestry results and breeze through the rest of senior year. Done, done and done.

But when Cordelia’s GeneQuest results reveal that her father is not the man she thought he was but a stranger who lives thousands of miles away, Cordelia realizes she isn’t sure of anything anymore—not the mother who lied, the life she was born into or the girl staring back at her in the mirror.

If your life began with a lie, how can you ever be sure of what’s true?

Trigger / Content Warnings: abortion (alluded to & briefly discussed), abandonment (parental – feels abandoned by them), alcohol consumption (underage), drunk driving (resulting in an accident, briefly mentioned)

Written in stunning verse, Dante Medema examines the relationship between children and their parents, and what shapes a persons identity – is it nature, is it nurture, or is it a mix of both? The protagonist, Cordelia, has always felt like she didn’t fit in to her family, that she was the odd one out. So, when it is her turn to do her senior project, she – like her elder sister before her – decides to do it based on DNA. Except where her sister wrote about the famous people she was related to, Cordelia finds out a truth she has been suspecting all along . . .

When you looked into my eyes
and told me I wasn’t his.
I cried.

Not because you took away the only
I’ve ever known.

But because I was relieved.

I always knew there was something different about me

But with that feeling of vindication, also comes the confusion, the hurt, the pain, and the questions. How does this change who she is? How did this happen? Who is she related to? What does this mean for the father who raised her? Cordelia begins to spiral, feeling her sense of who she is begin to unravel from her.

When you looked into my eyes
and told me not to tell him
I cried.

Not because you wanted me to lie.

But because you deepened the gap between me
and the only
I’ve ever known.

It will never be okay


Cordelia’s journey to learn more about her biological father, herself, and her mother while dealing with lying to her father, and her sisters, is extremely emotional and heartbreaking. Medema’s verse is vivid, you feel all of Cordelia’s pain, angst, confusion, and anger. You also feel her hope, and ache with her when it’s diminished. Truly an emotional read.

I enjoyed Cordelia’s relationship with Kodiak, but I do wish that we got to see more of his character. His troubles were always mentioned, and how he was attempting to overcome them, but often times he never felt as real as Cordelia did. And yes, this is Cordelia’s story but I do feel as if it would have been beneficial to explore Kodiak’s depth more considering his role in the story.

I also really liked Cordelia’s relationship with her best friend. I am sad that when they have conflict it was overshadowed and almost instantly forgotten about. Again, it felt those characters could not have their own depth/storylines (or at least follow through with them) because it all had to be about Cordelia. Which, again, understandable, she is going through an ordeal but I do wish more time was spent on her other relationships as they too were important to her identity.

While I do wish we could’ve had more exploration of Cordelia’s family, I really enjoyed the conclusion. The conversation she had with her father made me cry, and overall it ended on a really hopeful note.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and thought the verse was fantastic. A quick & emotional read.

4/5 stars!