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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A novel about the importance of telling the truth.
Positive Role Models
The main character deliberately disrupts a class, and then lies about it.
Infrequent mild to moderate swearing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book depicts high school life with devastating accuracy, and uses an unusual, intriguing format. Teenagers easily understand the situation, recognize the characters, and enjoy the book -- even when it's required.
Is It Any Good?
Readers who pick up this book will be struck first by the unusual format; Avi calls this book "a documentary novel." It consists of a collection of memos, dialogues, diary entries, newspaper articles, letters, and transcripts of speeches and radio shows. Avi lets readers make their own judgments about what happens, but only the reader knows the whole story. Philip's fellow students easily figure out what really happens, and taunt him, punishing him more than the school authorities can.
Yet branding Philip as the only dishonest character won't work. Philip's parents go along with his lies to support him and look patriotic, instead of finding out what their son really needs. Because so few want to find the truth, Miss Narwin loses her career and Philip loses his friends and his dream. He's finally forced to tell the truth in the devastating last line of the book.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate