It Rhymes With Truth

Rich Miller

Publisher: Lost Pictograph Publishing Pages: 230 Price: (paperback) $17.99 ISBN: 9798990770904 Reviewed: July, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

In this thoroughly engaging novel—by turns, funny, thoughtful, sweet, and sad—a homeless boy learns life lessons in an unexpected place: an elder care home.

An eight-and-a-half year old boy lurks around a retirement home, stealing sunflower seeds intended for the birds. Slowly, an elderly resident named Ruth lures him into her apartment with cookies and milk. Ruth is irrepressible – full of crazy antics, jokes and silly puns. She wins him over through a shared love of Mariners baseball, card-playing, and a sweet tooth, but it’s a delicate balance. The boy is ready to bolt at a moment’s notice.

Hiding the boy from neighbors and staff, Ruth hopes to save him. But, when fate intervenes in their relationship, the boy finds it’s impossible to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

This book is wonderfully fresh, thanks to the author’s breezy style incorporating song lyrics, drawings, and funny footnotes. The boy, who narrates the story, is never named and refers to Ruth in the second person, as in “you checked every few minutes to see if the cookies and milk were still there.” Ruth is original and funny. When one of her neighbors storms in looking for the boy, she says, “What can I help you with, Millie? Do you need a cup of sugar or arsenic or something?”

To keep the boy from running, a savvy Ruth and the boy devise three “truisms” (agreeing the word is more palatable than “rules”); the first is that they won’t ever question each other about their pasts. Thus, there’s no backstory to either; ultimately, it’s the relationship, not how they got there, that matters.

The book’s conclusion is heart-wrenching as the pieces of the story fall into place. The boy, older now, is composing a memory book for Ruth, while questioning the reliability of his memories as an 8-year-old. In a nod to her puns, he says, “Maybe this book is the truth. At the very least, I hope it rhymes with truth. Maybe.”

Author's Current Residence
Portland, Oregon
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