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A Different Truth

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

What would you do if your best friend were attacked? Forget about it like they want you to or find out who did it? Even if it may cost you everything.

In 1968 sixteen-year old Andy Olson’s family ships him off to Palmer Military Academy. There, along with his best friend, Tom, he’s plunged into a world where rules are everything and disobedience not an option.

When Tom openly supports the peace movement, Andy grows increasingly irritated. He doesn’t care about politics and the raging Vietnam War. Besides, messing with their bullying teammates is dangerous, underestimating fanatics like Officer Muller, the tormentor of plebes a mistake. It’s hard enough to make it through each day, avoid counselor Beerbelly’s spying eyes and extra marching. Andy plans to play a little football, visit Maddie, a townie with eyes like the Caribbean Sea and lie low until graduation.

But the war has a way of reaching Andy, he couldn’t have imagined. His privileged classmates with deep pockets and connections to the Dean call Tom a traitor. Maddie’s brother, a Vietnam vet confined to a wheelchair, aims to stop Andy from seeing Maddie. And there’s Sarge, a dedicated soldier turned teacher who takes an interest in Andy’s career.

When Tom is attacked and the school calls it an unfortunate accident, Andy decides to make a choice that will not only threaten his future but his very life.

Reviews
Book Nerd Blog

"A Different Truth" by Annette Oppenlander was refreshing, enlightening and  an emotional read. Andy, the main character, was a young man in the military in the mist of the Vietnam War. Although the war is a back drop to this story, the real issues appear when Andy and his best friend Tom. I thought it was interesting to see how the author highlighted a very important aspect of society through Tom and Andy' s differing views on "patriotism."  Besides the theme of war and the test of friendship, the author also included a sweet romance.  I really enjoyed this story and all the emotions that unfolded.

Readers' Favorite

A Different Truth by Annette Oppenlander takes place in 1968, the year when the Vietnam War was at its bloodiest. Along with his best friend Tom, sixteen-year-old Andy Olson is banished to Palmer Military Academy. Oppenlander deftly weaves an insightful coming of age story in the year when the United States was commonly associated with unrest, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the never clearly explained or understood Vietnam War. The things that Andy and Tom have to endure at the boys' military prep school sheds some light onto the struggles of young men trying to adapt and survive in the authoritarian world of the military. I like the way in which Oppenlander keeps the thriller aspects of the book grounded, and I also like the way she handles the hazing scenes that some of the boys have to bear. The scenes are handled well, without too much exploitation of the victims and the perpetrators. In fact, it may even serve as another platform to generate discussions about hazing and bullying in schools. Nevertheless, some readers may prefer to be forewarned about this content. A Different Truth is a powerful and thought provoking tale that allows us to think about our moral decisions. Readers who are personally familiar with the history of the Vietnam War will be fascinated by the story of the boys at Palmer Military Academy, whereas the generation that was born after the war would be able to use it as a trajectory to discover more about this unseen but crucial part of history.

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