"That was when I first heard about Layla Beck, when I began to wonder about my father, and when I noticed I was being lied to and decided to leave my childhood behind."
For the first time ever I believe I might actually meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for the year. This is exciting for so many reasons. Maybe it's because I actually made it more realistic, setting it at 40 rather than 50, like in the past, where I've never even gotten close. It just didn't happen... but maybe it could now?! The Truth According to Us was my 20th and was completed just a day before the half-way point in the year! I can see victory on my horizon. These are exciting times, people! It also happened to be my favorite read thus far and has helped propel me into my next book, another ARC, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, which I'm also really enjoying. Ahhh... the book life.
When I first started I was unable to overcome my desire to see what fellow book bloggers and enthusiasts were thinking about this one. It really is such a detrimental action but yet I still succumb. And I came across several reviews of respected fellow bloggers who just didn't feel like this delivered, and let me be the first to admit that it was far from perfect, but there was just something there that I loved so much. I was so happy that for once my impatience and curiosity hadn't spoiled something. What's more... I purposely paced myself in order to keep that world alive for just a bit longer and that's really what you want a book to do. It was just what I needed to start the summer and the next half of the year. For fans of the epistolary style found in the other title Barrows is so famous for, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I promise you won't be disappointed. While the novel isn't told exclusively through letters from each of the participating characters, there are many that move the story along and add extra entertainment.
The novel centers on the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia during the depression. A small town much like any small town in the US of A at this period in time, everyone knows everyone, and they've all got a story to tell. Layla Beck is sent to Macedonia to record the history of town and its people for the Works Progress Administration after she refuses to marry a man her father, a wealthy senator, has chosen for her. Entitled and certainly naive, Layla learns Macedonia's history through the colorful townspeople, and her host family, the Romeyns. Little does she know she'll quickly fall head over heels for the patriarch, Felix Romeyn, and unearth some skeletons in the family's closet. With narration from the perspectives of Willa, Felix's eldest daughter, Jottie, Felix's eldest sister, and Layla herself, the reader is lost in Macedonia and an era that defined the nation.
Guys, I LOVED THIS NOVEL. All caps love. It's that serious. The story, tbh, was predictable and has been done before... BUT the characters! Oh my god. Jottie?! I loved her. I loved the family and the small town atmosphere and the southern dialogue. It offered a glimpse of how my grandparents' families were when they all got together. The phrase "hush up" took me back to family reunions from my childhood. I wanted to spend forever in those pages, conjuring up visions of my Nana sitting amongst my Papa's many sisters and their husbands. And if I'm being fair, that's probably why I connected to it like I did. On a deeper level, though, it also reminds readers what it's like to start seeing things as an adult as one comes of age.
Read it if you love historical fiction. Read it if you love epistolary tales. Read it if you're wanting something you could get lost in.
*I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from Random House through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.