Saturday, February 18, 2017

Author Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us
A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

Every month, I look forward to our local library book club meeting. A few years ago, we read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and everyone really enjoyed it. Therefore, we were excited to read The Truth According to us. Annie Barrows does not disappoint the reader and offers a tale that entertains, has romance, and a book that I just couldn’t put down!

“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.”

Please click on this link to read what inspired Annie Barrows

Since, I live in West Virginia, this book caused a bit of conversation. The character development is the best that I have even seen for describing those that live in the eastern panhandle. Although the town of Macedonia is not real. It is very similar to Romney West Virginia. Moreover, It was fun to have the real towns such as Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, and Charlestown that are less than ten minutes from my home. I was surprised to learn that one of my favorite restaurants, The Bavarian Inn was mentioned along with the racetrack. 

The pace of The Truth According to Us is fast and captures the reader’s attention. My favorite characters were Willa and Jottie. I could relate to both of them in many ways. I was surprised at how well the author was able to display the behavior of loyalty between Jottie and Felix. I could really experience how Jottie lost her sense of self. Yet, I love how Jottie’s character develops in the end of the novel. I was equally pleased with the changes that were made with Layla. The romance in this novel is not too over the top and makes it also part of a detective novel as Willa and Layla discover the family secrets.

My favorite line was from the town librarian, “All of us see a story according to our own lights. None of us is capable of objectivity. You must be aware of your sources.”  
I also like, 

“You're right, Jottie, but what good is it? Rightness is nothing. You can't live on it. You might as well eat ashes." I glanced at Father, his bloodshot eyes and the stain on his pants. I loved him so. Once more, I tried to explain. "This is all we can do; it's all we're allowed. We can't go back. The only thing time leaves for us to decide" -- I picked up Father's hand and held it tight-- "is whether or not we're going to hate each other.”

Photo Credit Annie Barrows Website

Overall, everyone including myself enjoyed this novel and it produced a great discussion for a group of bookworms. The only thing that I did not like in this book was that it was choppy in some parts. Especially with the letters that Layla would write. It was almost as they were written but thrown away as they were left unfinished. This was a bit confusing and interrupted the flow at times.  I give The Truth According to Us  by Annie Barrows slightly above average recommendation.


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