Life is hard for Mason Buttle. His family has been hit by tragedy Bing Bang Boom. First was grandpa, then mom and then best friend Benny. All that grief has a way of piling up on a family, and Mason has sunk under the weight.
It is just grandma, Uncle Drum and Mason at home now and Shayleen. Uncle Drum brought Shayleen home from the diner one day. She moved into Mason’s room, forcing him to the attic, and is addicted to the Home Shopping Network. The Buttles have had to sell off parts of their generations’ old farm to make way for new developments. They have stopped selling or picking the apples from the orchard. And the house has become a big “crumbledown,” as Mason likes to call it.
Mason’s life was hard even before the Bing Bang Boom. He is a big kid who has a lot of issues. He has dyslexia and doesn’t read or write very well. He sweats a lot, so much so that he changes his shirt midday. He also sees colors he doesn’t tell most people because they don’t understand. Happy things are pink and bad things are green in Mason’s vision.
To top things off, Lt. Baird keeps asking Mason what happened to Benny. He thinks there is more to the story than Mason has told. What Mason knows is Benny fell from their tree fort and broke his neck. What he doesn’t know is the top step was sawed through, and Mason’s hacksaw is missing.
What makes Mason’s life good is Miss Blinny, the resource officer at school. She is fantastically supportive and helps Mason in so many ways. She brings in the dragon so Mason can tell his story. It is a recording device that types what you say so you do not have to type it yourself. You just speak into the dragon and it tells your story for you. Mason uses the dragon to tell his truth. His truth about Benny, his truth about the bullies who pick on him every day, his truth about life at home, and his truth about his new friend Calvin.
Calvin is another student who hangs out in Miss Blinny’s office. He is small and delicate, but always learning and looking things up. Mason and Calvin become best friends through their shared avoidance of bullies Matty and Lance, who torment them every day at school and at the bus stop. They find a forgotten root cellar behind the crumbledown and turn it into their interpretation of the Caves of Lascaux. Then one day, tragedy strikes and Calvin goes missing. Baird is back at the farm questioning Mason about yet another accident involving his friend. Baird thinks Mason is the link between the two events, but he isn’t the only one. The truth will be devastating to everyone.
Leslie Connor’s “The Truth About Mason Buttle” was one of the best books of 2018 and it is a must read. Mason will touch your heart with his honesty, loyalty and perseverance in the face of adversity. His story is one that will leave you thinking about your actions and the consequences they can bring. It is a story filled with pieces that don’t quite fit until that one missing piece is revealed that brings everything suddenly into focus.
Angie Bayne is the children’s services manager at Missouri River Regional Library.