Book Review: On My Honor

On My Honor
by Marion Dane Bauer
HMH Books for Young Readers
Originally published 1986
Newbery Honor Book – 1987

Synopsis (Amazon):

Joel’s best friend, Tony, is a daredevil. It was Tony’s idea to make the long bike ride to
the Starved Rock state park, and Tony’s idea to stop for a swim in the dangerous Vermillion River. So why does Joel feel so much guilt when tragedy strikes?

My Review

Bauer hit a home run with this short story about a single decision that changed lives forever. Tony and Joel were born less than a week apart and grew up together as Tony’s mother watched Joel while his parents worked. On My Honor takes place the summer after sixth grade and Joel is wondering exactly why he is friends with Tony. They could not be more different. Joel enjoys swimming at the local pool, while Tony prefers the daredevil life. After convincing Joel’s father to let them ride their bikes eight miles to the state park, they stop at the river where a fight breaks out between the two friends. Joel was fed up with Tony’s demanding to do things his way (and after a few jabs at each others’ parents) and made a dare that he knew Tony would never pass up.

The raw emotions that Bauer evoked in just a few short passages brought home the feelings that many know…why don’t parents see through lies…why don’t friends enjoy the same things…why don’t friends listen to each other…why did I say what I said…why can’t I take it back…how can I live with myself.

A real tear-jerking ending touches on the pain of not being able to make things right and being angry at everyone in the world because of it.

On My Honor was awarded the Newbery Honor Award (1987). The Whipping Boy won the Medal. Personally, I think this was a much better book than The Whipping Boy.

Overall rating: ♥♥♥♥♥



6 thoughts on “Book Review: On My Honor

    1. I wasn’t either. It shows how “political” awards can be. I read an article today about what makes “literary fiction” still so much better than commercial fiction. I think sometimes we have our heads so far in the clouds there is a lack of oxygen. Just about every book ever written can be categorized and classified into one genre or another.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually hate how they have separated literature into literary and commercial. Literary is focused on the art–not the reader. So, in the end, the fewer number of people who understand and like the book, the better. Commercial is focused on the reader. That’s why genre fiction is under commercial and not literary. The Newbery Medal was created by librarians to draw attention to the best literary works for children published the previous year. Only recently (and not very often) did commercial fiction creep in to the list (some consider The Graveyard Book to be commercial).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a fantasy fiction book that teachers and students love, but read what the chairman said about it:

        They approached it as a literary fiction rather than commercial. I think all books published that year for children should be considered. But, I wonder how they are going to address or recognize the shifting of “what is appropriate” to lower age levels. They now say that drugs and drinking is fine for MG, but sex should be young YA. They claim that children like to “read up” so an eleven year old wants to read about 15-16 year olds. I guess I must have been weird and my kid is weird. Oh well.

        Liked by 1 person

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