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Book Review

This action adventure book by Andrew Klavan is third in " The Homelanders" series published by Thomas Nelson.

The Truth of the Matter is written for kids ages 13 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eighteen-year-old Charlie West can't remember the last year of his life. He only knows the police are pursuing him for the murder of his best friend, Alex, and a ruthless group of terrorists called the Homelanders want him. Charlie searches for a man named Waterman, who can tell him the truth about his past. When Charlie and Waterman meet, Waterman and his cohort shoot Charlie with a tranquilizer, shove him in the trunk of a car and drag him to a remote location in the woods. There, at an old former psychiatric facility, they tell him they need to be sure they can still trust him. They inject him with a drug to restore his memory. During this painful process, Charlie has the first of many intermittent out-of-body experiences that allow him to relive his memories a little at a time.

He wakes up locked in the facility's panic room, hearing the terrorists outside planning to blow up the building. He follows Waterman's clue written on a note and escapes from the room, only to find Waterman's dead body nearby. Waterman's body position directs Charlie to a small robotic device that allows him to remotely tear gas the terrorists (who are led by a man named Waylon) and escape. Charlie is caught by and escapes the terrorists several times on a gunfire-filled chase through the woods.

Meanwhile, Charlie continues to remember elements of his past. A year ago, Waterman approached him secretly. He told Charlie the Homelanders were a great risk to national security, and he wanted to enlist Charlie to help him infiltrate the group. With Charlie's permission, Waterman's people would frame Charlie for the murder of his friend, Alex. Sherman, a teacher-turned-Homelander from the boys' school, actually killed Alex. Waterman would then help Charlie escape from prison, and Charlie would gain credibility with the terrorists. He would have to give up everything, including his family, his girlfriend and the hope of a normal future. But God-fearing, patriotic Charlie realized he needed to do it to preserve the freedom of his country. As more memories come back, he thinks something must have gone wrong with the plan. That's why the terrorists are after him, and that's why his memory was gone. He had obviously consumed the drug provided by Waterman's group to erase his memory in emergency circumstances.

Police learn Charlie's whereabouts and pursue him in hopes of re-arresting him. The lead officer is Detective Rose, who initially arrested Charlie for Alex's murder. Charlie is ill and weak with hunger and exhaustion. He finds a house in the woods and passes out just as a woman, Margaret, and her young son, Larry, come home. Margaret nurses Charlie back to health and hides him from the police. She's heard him talking in his sleep and knows the truth about his identity. Charlie has a dream in which he discovers Rose is the man Waterman wanted him to contact. The Homelanders surround Margaret's house, but Rose and his men arrive just in time to save Charlie, Margaret and Larry. Rose handcuffs Charlie to take him back to prison, and Charlie hopes he is right in thinking Rose is an ally. The series concludes with the next book in this series, book 4, The Final Hour.

Christian Beliefs

Charlie prays for God's presence and guidance, as well as for courage. He also acknowledges God answering a prayer. Bible verses come to Charlie's mind during a difficult time. He's grateful to God when his memory starts to return. He believes God knows the names of those who died for their country. During some tough moments, Charlie has a hard time praying and feels himself holding back from God. He says he knows the Bible tells him he should be grateful for trials, but instead he feels angry.

Charlie refuses any kind of "suicide pill" to be used in the event he's tortured. He chooses to help his country because he wants to make the best use of the soul God gave him. Margaret has a wooden cross and a painting of Jesus holding a lantern. She notices when Charlie says grace before eating. Charlie remembers Alex having doubts about his faith and other core beliefs as he struggled with his parents' impending divorce.

Other Belief Systems

Sherman doesn't believe in a Creator or think there is anyone to endow humans with rights. He says God and religion are just old-fashioned superstitions from another age. According to Waterman, Sherman thinks he can replace Charlie's patriotism and faith in God with his beliefs. Sherman tells Charlie the American system he (Charlie) trusted has let him down by sending him to prison for a crime he didn't commit. Waterman and Charlie engage in an argument about the nature of truth and right vs. wrong.

Charlie is disturbed by the ideas he often hears lately, that good and bad are just a matter of perspective and culture. He argues that there are definitive rights and wrongs, though humans don't always do a good job keeping them straight. He says, for example, that love is better than hate.

Authority Roles

Waterman asks Charlie to undertake dangerous duties on behalf of his country. He treats Charlie roughly when he prepares to re-instate the boy's memory. Charlie's teacher Mr. Sherman subtly fills his students' heads with anti-American, anti-democratic sentiments. He mocks Charlie in class for his patriotism, and he kills Alex. Charlie's parents love and support him. They are confused and devastated by his imprisonment. Charlie remembers wise advice about courage and perseverance from his karate teacher.


The Lord's name in vain appears once. Bombings, gunfire and other explosions abound. Charlie spends a lot of time in agony from his various illnesses, beatings, falls and the effects of the memory-restoration drug. Sherman stabs Alex to death. Charlie finds Waterman lying dead in a pool of blood. One of Waylon's thugs is shot in the face, and blood pours out as he tries to cover the wound with this hands.

The police surround and kill another thug. Bullets tear into him, and he crumples to the ground like a broken toy. Waylon, an Iranian, who is a top lieutenant of Saudi Arabian terrorists, enjoys torturing and killing people slowly and sending the videos to their families.


Charlie kisses a girlfriend named Beth.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Other moral/patriotic sentiments: Charlie refuses to shoot an unarmed thug. Charlie's karate coach says if you're not willing to die for something that matters, in the end you die for nothing. When Charlie eats food from Margaret's refrigerator, he leaves money to pay for it.

Lying: Beth, Charlie's girlfriend, can tell Charlie is lying to her when he makes up reasons for breaking off their relationship. Charlie deceives Sherman into thinking he wants to join the Homelanders. Margaret lies to the police to protect Charlie, telling them she hasn't seen the fugitive they're seeking.

Alcohol: Charlie meets Sherman in a sleazy bar where people are drinking in the middle of the day. He feels uncomfortable, but knows they need to talk in a place where he won't be recognized.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

13 and up


Andrew Klavan






Record Label



Thomas Nelson


On Video

Year Published





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