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Book Review: Truth in Advertising by John Kinney

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Finbar Dolan, also known as “Fin,” the progtagonist of John Kinney’s Truth in Advertising, is a funny, charming man with a group of dedicated friends at his work who are like family to him. And that is good, because his own family is either dead, dying, or completely estranged. His mother is dead, his father, who was abusive and then left when Fin was 12, is dying, and he rarely sees or hears from his brothers and sister.

Fin has become adept at ignoring his past, even while it causes him to fear commitment and personal success.

In fact, he is, as he says, “afraid of things that can’t be proven with focus-group testing.”

This novel could easily have been either a dark exploration of quiet desperation or a comic tale of a modern-day loser in the advertising business, but it is neither. It will make you laugh out loud at times and it will also touch you deeply and make you empathize with Fin’s situation. But through it all, Fin’s own good heart and refusal to believe that people are bad and things are hopeless keep him making as many right choices as wrong and give both the character and the reader hope for the future.

That hope matters, because this is the sort of book where you really care about the characters, not only Finn but Finn’s friends. Along the way, you learn a lot about the world of advertising, including the perils of attempting to control hundreds of babies for a diaper commercial. Kinney has 17 years experience as a copywriter, and he uses that background to make this story absolutely realistic.

In fact, like life, although Fin faces many issues that he must overcome, his day to day existence is a mix of good and bad, happy and sad. But through it all Fin muddles through toward what you, the reader, hope will be a satisfactory ending.

You will not be disappointed in Truth in Advertising. The plot is highly entertaining, but it is the joy of getting to know such a realistic, likeable, believable character as Finbar Dolan that makes this novel such a treat. Fin is the sort of guy you will enjoy spending time with.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
  • Correction: The author’s name is actually spelled John Kenney. My apologies.