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Dial Press. June 2015. ISBN: 9780385342940
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
Twelve-year-old Willa is on the cusp of her teenage years and becomes determined to figure out things that her family won't tell her, especially concerning her dear Aunt Jottie and enigmatic father Felix. When Layla Beck, the daughter of a prominent senator, is sent to Willa's hometown in Macedonia, West Virginia to work on the Federal Writer's Project, Willa's world gets a little more interesting. As the summer passes, she learns about the secrets people keep, and the pasts that they bury in order to get by.
This book was a charmer. Willa reminded me of Scout Finch, and she tells her story in a similar way. She's a tomboy and she's nosy, and through her eyes and her observations, you can see how she grows and changes, while also revealing more about her intriguing family members - in this case, her mysterious father Felix and her aunt Jottie. You get other points of view as well - some of Jottie's, and some of Layla Beck's (Layla's side is told through her correspondence, which almost feels like you are prying like Willa does). The dialogue is amazing - a lot of ribbing between Jottie and her brother Felix, with undercurrents of unspoken words, and the fast pace of their witty conversation is highly entertaining. This was the biggest charmer for me, and why the Romeyn family was so intriguing.
Family loyalty is a big theme throughout, and it's easy to get sucked into the intricacies of the Romeyn family. Once a big name in the town, the Romeyn family name is now somewhat tarnished, but like Willa, we are left to wonder how that came to be, and part of the fun is trying to figure out how they got where they are today. In a similar thread, Layla Beck is working on Macedonia's history, and bit by bit, she too is putting the pieces of the town's history together, and revealing the truth which overlaps with the Romeyn family mysteries. Every bit the outsider to this small insular town, the reader has to find the inside scoop, and know whose stories you can rely on and whose to take with a grain of salt.
What I find most interesting, and which I really came away with, is that even the bad apples have a story to tell. Not everyone is as they initially seem. And we all tell ourselves different truths to help get us through the moment, and that even when that truth isn't accurate, we find ourselves believing our own stories as well.
You'll like this book if you like:
- great characterization
- coming-of-age stories
- historical fiction
- family secrets
- charming and funny dialogue
A big thanks to NetGalley for providing me the opportunity to read this book before it was published in exchange for my honest review.