Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Truth According to Us

Annie Barrows

From the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what's right.

Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck's father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers' Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla's arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family's past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Layla Beck is sent to Macedonia, WV as part of the Federal Writers’ Project. She boards with the Romeyn family. Under their roof lives Felix, his sister Jottie and his two daughters Willa and Bird. His other two sisters, Mae and Minerva (both married) are part time residents. We also spend time with another brother Emmett and a childhood friend, Sol. As Layla researches the town’s history, she uncovers several secrets. Not just about Macedonia, but also about the Romeyns.

I absolutely love when a story involves the point of view of a youngster. Usually, young people are honest and frequently funny as they try to navigate around the adults in their lives. Willa exemplifies this behavior. When we first meet her, she has a burning desire to know everything. But by the end of the story, she has discovered that sometimes knowing everything is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I was sad when I came to the end of this truly lovely tale. Not because it was a sad story - far from it. But because it was over. I loved spending time with the characters. Ms. Barrows sure has a way pulling the reader into their lives and making us feel like we are living it with them. Part love story, part mystery, told with humor and grace, this is on my list of best reads for 2015. A true gem!

I am grateful to Random House Publishing, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

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