Truth is in the House
Michael J. Coffino
Koehler Books (2021)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/2021)
“Truth is in the House” by Michael J. Coffino follows the journey of two boys over the course of several decades as they grow into their own in the great melting pot that is the United States of America. It’s a poignant historical novel that embodies themes of prejudice, consequences, redemption, forgiveness and ultimately connection with each other as one race: humanity.
Jimmy emigrates from Ireland as a young boy with his family in the late 1950s, establishing their home in NYC. Jaylen and his family come from a line of descendants living in Mississippi where Jim Crow reigns supreme. Both boys experience tremendous hardships and are molded by these events, some as the result of their choices, some dished out by an ignorant, unforgiving society. It’s what they do in the face of these experiences that take “Truth is in the House” from a great story to a phenomenal read you won’t soon forget.
The characters drive this story, characters of great depth and authenticity, imperfections and all, and Jaylen and Jimmy construct indelible imprints on the reader. Jaylen’s steadfast determination and his unwillingness to accept the status quo, along with his heart of gold, make him an admirable man; one we should all aspire to emulate. Jimmy struggles with being unable to make decisions in moments that matter and this haunts him throughout his life. Still, he comes to realize some important things about himself by the end of the story. Jaylen’s father, though a secondary character in the story, makes a lasting impression worth mentioning. It’s the morsels of wisdom he imparts that will stick with you and give you pause, such as this lesson he teaches his boys:
“There are three types of White folk… There’s the evil kind, he hates you to your face. He makes no bones about how he feels ‘bout you… Then there are the White folk who say all the right things… They don’t hate you. They lack moral fiber… Then, there are the White folk who are kind, in and out… Keep them close.”
As you can see, the writing is impeccable. Coffino truly has a gift with words, drawing readers in from the very first page and never letting go. The novel flows at a pace that will keep you turning the pages and I advise readers not to start this one at night if you have somewhere to be in the morning because you’ll be pulling an all-nighter.
“Truth is in the House” deeply moved me. Though threads of hope are woven throughout, I still felt a fundamental sadness take hold, knowing that many of the issues addressed are still relevant, if not elevated in today’s tumultuous society. I highly recommend this incredible novel by Michael J. Coffino. It’s a profound reading experience you don’t want to miss.