|Nothing But the Truth
Patriotism or practical joke?
Ninth-grade student Philip Malloy was suspended from school for singing along to The Star-Spangled Banner in his homeroom, causing what his teacher, Margaret Narwin, called "a disturbance." But was he standing up for his patriotic ideals, only to be squelched by the school system? Was Ms. Narwin simply trying to be a good teacher? Or could it all be just a misunderstanding gone bad—very bad? What is the truth here? Can it ever be known?
Heroism, hoax, or mistake, what happened at Harrison High changes everything for everyone in ways no one—least of all Philip—could have ever predicted.
Behind the Book
Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Part of the answer is, in very odd ways.
Consider Nothing but the Truth. I like games. One day, while wandering about a flea market I chanced upon a game unlike any I had seen before: a boxed mystery game. When I opened the box it contained all the evidence of a crime in separate, replicated pieces. Here was a photograph. Here was a police report. Here was (in a little packet) a cigarette stub. Here was a written statement by a witness. And so on. You (like a detective) were supposed to sift through all this very real looking evidence—the legal term for evidence is “discovery”—and then decide who the villain was before opening a sealed envelope. Very clever.
Then, at another flea market, I came upon the same game in a completely different form. Here, all that discovery was reproduced as a book. Now you went through that evidence by turning pages. It was not like any book I had ever seen. It fascinated me.
Now, if you look at the way Nothing but the Truth is constructed, and think of it as a game, with each section like the evidence for a crime, you’ll see the connection between my book and that mystery game.
And guess what? When I first started on the book the working title I used was Discovery.
Awards and Honors
Garden State Teen Award, 1995
“… Avi shows how easily a simple act of defiance by a teenager can soon become the center of the political correctness debate waging in the United States. This is an interesting, and yet disturbing, story that captures the unfortunate reality of today's school system and the media frenzy around it. Although written for young readers, it is also a good read for parents and educators. As is typical of Avi, the writing is riveting and revealing.”