Weekend Reads, with Bonus Track: “Give Me Some Truth”

Give Me Some TruthGive Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carson Mastick is determined to win his high school’s Battle of the Bands, because the prize includes a trip to New York City … and getting off of the Tuscarora reservation is part of his major plan. The problem is, he doesn’t have a band.

Maggi Bokani’s mother has brought her and her siblings back to the reservation, and she’s miserable. But she has a new job … and a crush on one of the guys she works with.

The book is told in first person, alternating between Carson and Maggi’s point of view. So, we see the result of Carson’s older brother confronting a racist restaurant owner, and Maggi’s concern for her sister, among other issues, through their eyes.

The entire book takes place in 1980. As one of Carson’s friends is a huge Beatles fan, the band starts by learning their covers. Each chapter has a title from John Lennon’s work … as does the book. It is no great surprise that the entire thing culminates with Lennon’s assassination, by which time numerous subplots have come together and we see the hero’s journey that both Maggi and Carson have been experiencing. No one is unchanged by the end of this book.

Frankly, I think this is book takes a good look at the challenges faced by people of color. Carson is light-skinned and able to “pass” (he calls himself a ChameleIndian) but not all of his friends and family are … and so he’s keenly aware of being treated differently by the white kids at his school. He’s seen as an insider while others are part of an out group — and he has to face some harsh realizations throughout the tale as a result.

However, this is also a heavy tale that ends on a day that many people my age remember far too keenly (I know what I was wearing and doing on the day John Lennon died). While aimed at a YA audience, more sensitive readers may find this difficult to deal with.

View all my reviews

Here’s the title song for you to enjoy.


Happy Birthday, David and Elvis

January 8 seems to have been a good day for rock legends to be born. David Bowie (1947) and Elvis Presley (1935) share it. I miss both of them.

Here are some bonus tracks in honor of their natal days. I chose these pieces because they speak to me about hope and better days ahead.

The Holiday Head Cold from Hades

If my Facebook memories are to be believed, I get a horrible cold at this time every year. It usually wrecks my long-standing plans by felling me like a tree outside a lumber camp. This year has been no exception.

It was a tight squeeze, but I managed to set up my section of the signing table.

I had my book signing at Barnes & Noble on Dec. 8 … and I suspect that’s where I caught the cold. When you are interacting with dozens of people over the course of a few hours, it’s almost a sure bet that someone will be incubating a cold! Living with an autoimmune disease makes me more likely to catch that cold than the average Jane, so of course …


The great frustration is that I had planned to spend yesterday at a French-themed holiday market not far from where I live. Instead, I spent it on the couch. dosed to the gills on cold medication that made me sleepy. I was not exactly the picture of authorial glamour. I felt too lousy to put up my weekly Sample Saturday post; moving from the couch was more work than I could manage!

However, it seems that I actually turned a corner last night, because the coughing and congestion is not as bad today, I no longer feel febrile, which is also good. We have pre-paid tickets to the Fathom Events screening of Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, and I feel okay to go.

Here’s a little bit of Emmett Otter for you to enjoy as well.

Sample Saturday, “Music, Mayhem and Bad Decisions,” with Bonus Track

M&M frt Verson 1December 8 is a tough day for me. Even as I prepare for today’s book signing, I remember that 38 years ago today, John Lennon was murdered. Twenty-two years ago today, my maternal grandmother (for whom I am named) passed away.

It’s a tough day, but it’s also one that put my feet on the road toward the music business so many years ago. Today’s sample is from my memoir about those years, Music, Mayhem and Bad Decisions (click here for purchasing links). The subsequent bonus track is David Bowie’s beautiful cover of “Imagine.”

My first exposure to the Portland music scene came when I did something completely out of character for me. It was December 1980, and I skipped school to go downtown for a John Lennon memorial in the aftermath of his murder. A local band called The Malchicks was playing and, honest to God, I thought the lead singer was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. His name was Billy Rancher, and I am sure that my parents grew mightily sick of hearing about him. Of course, I was in huge trouble for ditching school, but I didn’t care. I was a senior with very good grades, knew I would graduate — and had just gotten a tiny taste of the world I hoped to inhabit.

At about the same time, along came something new: MTV. (Yep, I’m old enough to remember when MTV played music videos and nothing else.) Suddenly, I was hearing a whole different sound. Consider that the most popular bands among my classmates were Van Halen and Blue Oyster Cult. Now, suddenly I was listening to The Yachts, Bram Tchaikovsky, Human League. It was like a whole new world opened up to me.

As I said, I went to a semi-rural high school. We lived across the street from a dairy farm. I don’t remember more than a handful of people of color among my classmates — including the exchange students from places like Japan and Iran. Being “different” was strongly discouraged, to say the least.

There was this tiny enclave of people, primarily in speech/debate and/or theatre, and we embraced this new music. Devo and The B-52s were requested at school dances and we would pogo merrily away. We were the “punk” crowd, according to the Van Halen fans. It must be said that this does not mean we were the proverbial “cool kids.” Quite the opposite, in fact. However, we didn’t let that stop us.