Exclusive Cover Reveal + Excerpt: A DNA Test Exposes Family Secrets in The Truth Project

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Exclusive Cover Reveal + Excerpt: A DNA Test Exposes Family Secrets in The Truth Project

The wonderful thing about novels in verse is that you can read them in a single sitting—and then slowly read them again, getting lost in their beautiful language. They’re books that can be both devoured and savored. And Dante Medema’s new Young Adult novel, The Truth Project? It’s one I can’t wait to inhale.

As an adoptee, I’m drawn to stories about found and chosen families that explore what defines those complicated relationships. It’s why I’ve been obsessed with the show Almost Family lately, and Medema’s novel in verse promises that same level of drama. Here’s the book description from the publisher:

Seventeen-year-old Cordelia Koenig was sure of many things going into her last year of high school. For one, she wasn’t going to stress over the senior project all her peers were dreading—she’d just use the same find-your-roots genealogy idea that her older sister used for hers. Secondly, she’d put all that time spent not worrying about the project toward getting reacquainted with former best friend and longtime crush Kodiak Jones who, conveniently, gets assigned as Cordelia’s partner.

All she has to do is mail in her DNA sample, write about her ancestry results and breeze through the rest of senior year. Done, done and done.

But when Cordelia’s GeneQuest results reveal that her father is not the man she thought he was but a stranger who lives thousands of miles away, Cordelia realizes she isn’t sure of anything anymore—not the mother who lied, the life she was born into or the girl staring back at her in the mirror.

If your life began with a lie, how can you ever be sure of what’s true?

HarperTeen will publish The Truth Project on October 13th, and we have the exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt to share with you! Check out the gorgeous cover, and brace yourself for Medema’s stunning writing below.

Cover design by Erin Fitzsimmons and illustration by Emma Leonard


You can pre-order The Truth Project ahead of its October release here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 4.43.23 PM.png

My parents created everything in the image
of a perfect Alaskan family.

The home on the hillside
a cabin in Kenai
2.5 kids
matching Xtratuf boots
a 5-star safety-test-rated Volvo
with all-wheel drive.

Pretty sure I’m the .5 kid.

To: Cordelia Koenig ([email protected])
From: Vidya Nadeer ([email protected])
Subject: Re: Senior Project Application


I’m so glad to finally get your proposal! I adore the idea of using a GeneQuest DNA kit to discover your roots and find how ancestry shapes you as a person through poems. I’ve lived in Tundra Cove since I was a child, but my family is from Kashmir with entirely different traditions and customs.

I like this idea—I do—but I can’t help but notice (despite the poetry aspect) you chose the exact same project as your older sister, Beatrice. I was her advisor as well, and while I expect you will impress me equally with yours, I want to ensure you take a great deal of effort to make this your own. Sometimes students with early acceptance can skim through the rest of their senior year, and I want you to get the most out of it. This grade is still very important to your GPA. Please let me know how you intend to make this stand out from Beatrice’s.

I’ve assigned Kodiak Jones as your partner. I agree with your email: the two of you will work well together, and hopefully I can convince both of you to join me next month for the Pacific Northwest Young Poets Conference. As I mentioned in class, I will be speaking there and taking a group of promising students. Please consider attending.

That’s all I have for now,

Vidya Nadeer

To: Cordelia Koenig ([email protected])
From: GeneQuest ([email protected])

We have your results!

Click here to see where you come from!

Deep down, I know what it will say.

I’m not so different.

Deep down I know
I’m looking for confirmation

To: Cordelia Koenig ([email protected])
From: GeneQuest ([email protected])

You have new GeneQuest relatives!

Click here to connect to your DNA family!
(If you can’t see relatives, make sure you’ve got “search function” set to ON in settings.)

It doesn’t matter that others are listed.
an uncle—25% shared DNA
a grandmother—25% shared DNA
a cousin—12.5% shared DNA

I can’t see past Father.
Jack Bisset—50% shared DNA.

As if this is common knowledge
that somewhere a man lives
who genetically
is my father.

I can’t stop staring outside
to a light snow
inching up my windowsill,
creating a blanket between me
and the world.

I slide down in my bed
hugging a pillow
and repeating over and over and over and over again.

I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.
I was right. I. Am. Adopted.

When I was little, I wondered
what made me different from my family.

I couldn’t understand
why none of them
needed to say something
a million times
in their heart
before they spoke
it with their tongue.

Why Mom and Bea never seem to cry
at movies I feel in my soul.
Or why Bea and Iris have the same
sense of humor. Their jokes
a connective tissue
and I’m the one struggling
to think of anything to add.
And why is Dad gentler with me
than my sisters?

Why I’ve always felt lonely
sitting with them at the dinner table.
Like maybe this wasn’t ever supposed to be my life.
I know they feel it too.
The way they look behind my back at each other
when I say something that is too much.
Or feel things harder than they do.
Maybe it’s that they don’t understand me,
but it might also be because they know.

Deep down, they know.
They know

While I’m
the outlier
the piece that doesn’t fit.
the one who shares nothing
but name.

The child
stuck in the middle
of a family
who would have
been just as complete
without her.

I’ve known.
I’ve been waiting for
the other shoe
to drop.
Now that it has,
I want to glue
my shoes
to my feet.

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