The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor was recommended many times over in a library group that I follow. The author also wrote All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, which is a 2020 nutmeg nominee that I recently finished.
This book gave me a tough time for a bit. I had this overwhelming feeling that something (else) bad was going to happen. There are a couple bullies in this book, Matt and Lance, and Matt is so rotten that I was afraid of what he might do. Mason is a kind and likable character with many tough obstacles to overcome. I didn’t want anything else bad to happen to him!
Mason has been solitary since his best friend Benny passed away. He struggles in school with his only respite being in his special education teacher’s room, otherwise known as the SWOOF. Here, he is learning to use the Dragon which is a machine to help him write his story. Gathering his thoughts to write by himself isn’t a possibility, neither is reading.
Mason befriends a new student named Calvin. They bond in their attempts to escape the school bullies and they have a project building a cool hideout. Things take a terrible turn when Calvin goes missing after an encounter with Matt and Lance. It turns out that Mason has been under investigation for his former friend’s death, and now eyes are on him again because of Calvin’s disappearance.
Eventually everything is righted, but waiting for resolution is nerve wracking! Calvin and Mason’s friendship reminds me quite a bit of the main characters in Freak the Mighty (a novel I enjoyed teaching in 7th grade ELA class). In both cases an unlikely duo find strength in each other. Their loyalty helps them to overcome the “evildoers” around them. This book mixes positive and negative; and luckily, good prevails in the end.