Multicultural Children's Book Day Review: The Truth Against the World by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Friday, January 27, 2017

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that. 
Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with is on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

The Truth Against the World by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: June 8th, 2014
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Author
Format: Paperback
Pages: 350

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Olwen Nia Evans learns that her family is moving from San Francisco to Wales to fulfill her great-grandmother's dying wish, she starts having strange and vivid dreams about her family's past. But nothing she sees in her dreams of the old country--the people, the places--makes any sense. Could it all be the result of an overactive imagination . . . or could everything she's been told about her ancestors be a lie?

Once in Wales, she meets Gareth Lewis, a boy plagued by dreams of his own--visions he can't shake after meeting a ghost among the misty cairns along the Welsh seaside.

A ghost named Olwen Nia Evans.

***I was provided with a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review for Mutlicultural Children's Book Day.***

The Truth Against the World is a ghost story and a mystery. Gareth Lewis is on a family outing when he stumbles across a cromlech with a grave marker for a little girl named Olwen Nia Evans. While searching for his phone that he dropped, he meets the ghost of the little girl, who gives him back his phone. This encounter prompts Gareth to research this Olwen and his search turns up a blog run by a girl in the United States with the same name.

Wyn and her family are preparing to visit Wales for awhile, as her great-grandmother (or her Gee Gee), wants to spend her final days in her home country. An email from Gareth prompts Wyn to try to get more information from her Gee Gee about her life before moving to the States, but for some reason she's not talking. Wyn also starts having vivid dreams about her Gee Gee when she was young and still in Wales.

With Wyn's dreams and Gareth being pretty much haunted by the ghost of a sad and lonely little girl, they make plans to meet in Wales and try to figure out this mystery for themselves since no one wants to talk about those days when young Olwen was alive.

What I liked:

I liked the mystery in this book. Wyn and Gareth are trying desperately to figure out who the little girl was before Wyn has to go back to California. With Wyn's grandmother constantly skirting around the subject while she is still able to talk at all, they turn to the museum and the townsfolk that knew Wyn's Gee Gee.

I also quite liked the characters in this book. They weren't the most excited characters to read about, to be honest. But they were very likable to make up for it. Gareth is trying super hard to help Wyn figure this all out. He's a really great friend to Wyn during these hard times with her Gee Gee's health slipping away. He's a little sweetie.

Wyn is dealing with a lot. Watching her Gee Gee dying and trying to figure out this mystery and dealing with her strange dreams. It seems like she was needing a friend too because her friend from school seemed to always be too busy to hang out with her. So it's good that she found Gareth. Or rather Gareth found her.

I liked the relationship between Wyn and Gareth. There isn't any romance in this book, but there is definitely a potential for it. I liked their friendship and how they were there for each other despite not knowing each other for very long.

What I did not like:

While I did somewhat enjoy this book, I felt like I waited way too long for something to actually happen. I think it was like 200 pages before I felt myself getting at all invested in this book. I didn't hate the beginning of this book, there wasn't anything bad about it, but it was kind of boring. I'm glad that I ended up taking this book with me on my flight to Indiana earlier this month because I don't really know if I would have been able to make myself keep reading if I had other options.

I found the mystery to be kind of predictable. For the most part, I don't think it's meant to be set up to where you can't kinda figure out what's going on, but I had the end twist figured out really early on in the book.

The other thing I didn't like about this book was how time passed in this book. It felt like it just passed really oddly. Like when you're reading about Wyn and Gareth's interactions, it feels like they got together were like, "Oh hi, I have to go, bye!" But I think I was supposed to believe that they had been hanging out for a more significant amount of time than like 3 seconds. I don't know if that's a good way to describe how I felt about this, all I know is it threw me off more than once when I was reading.

Overall, this was an okay book. The characters were likable. The mystery was interesting, if a little bit predictable. I think this book would probably be good for readers who are perhaps a bit on the younger side.

About the Author

Sarah Jamila Stevenson is a writer, artist, graphic designer, introvert, closet geek, enthusiastic eater, struggling blogger, lapsed piano player, household-chore-ignorer and occasional world traveler. Her previous lives include spelling bee nerd, suburban Southern California teenager, Berkeley art student, underappreciated temp, and humor columnist for a video game website. Throughout said lives, she has acquired numerous skills of questionable usefulness, like intaglio printmaking and Welsh language. She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is also an artist, and two cats with astounding sleep-inducing powers.

In The Truth Against the World, while Wyn is in Wales, she goes out to have fish and chips at a local shop, I think twice. I am really not that much of a fish person, but it just really sounded tasty. If you happen to read this book and agree that it sounds tasty AND happen to be some kind of talented in the kitchen, here is a recipe for fish and chips you can make at home!


Vegetable oil, for deep frying
4 large russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (12-ounce) can soda water
1/2 cup rice flour, for dredging
2 (8-ounce) cod or haddock fillets, cut in 1/2 on an angle
Malt vinegar, for serving
Tartar Sauce, recipe follows


Heat 3-inches of the oil in a deep fryer to 325 degrees F. Alternately, heat 3-inches of oil in a deep pot.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into chips, about the size of your index finger. Put the potatoes in the oil. Fry the chips for 2 to 3 minutes; they should not be crisp or fully cooked at this point. Remove the chips with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.

Crank the oil temperature up to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and egg. Pour in the soda water and whisk to a smooth batter. Spread the rice flour on a plate. Dredge the fish pieces in the rice flour and then dip them into the batter, letting the excess drip off.

Put the chips in the bottom of the fryer basket and carefully submerge in the hot oil. Carefully wave the battered fish into the bubbling oil before dropping them in on top of the chips. Fry the fish and chips for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy and brown. Remove the basket and drain the fish and chips on paper towels; season lightly with salt. Serve wrapped in a newspaper cone with malt vinegar and/or tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped cornichons
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
Dash hot sauce

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Chill before serving to let the flavors marry.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

How are YOU celebrating Multicultural Children's Book Day?


  1. Love the fish and chips idea! Very creative. Sarah Stevenson has some REALLY good books out and I have at least one in my "must read" pile. :) Thanks for being part of MCBD2017!

    1. I hope you love her books when you get the chance to read them! I might check out another one someday! This was a kinda cute read!


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