Thursday, May 28, 2015

ARC Review: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows Truth According to Us
by Annie Barrows 
Historical Fiction 
3/5 stars

Three star rating = I liked the book well enough, but I had some issues with it.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A new historical fiction by the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Whose grammar do I have to correct?!
The Truth According to Us focuses on the Romeyn family and their new boarder, a young woman working on the Federal Writer's Project to write a history of the small town, Macedonia. The book takes place in the summer of 1938, during the Depression, and it feels like stepping into history. It didn't have any excessive or uninteresting textbook history lessons, but gave me a real sense and taste for what it would have been like to live then. Especially in the Southern heat. My goodness, I never want to experience that kind of sweltering summer. The descriptions here were more than enough to convey how miserable that would be.


It's hard to pinpoint a certain genre for this, because it has a touch of everything. It's a love story, tragedy, historical fiction, coming-of-age, mystery. There are a lot of interesting characters, several diverse and wonderful points of view, a 12-year-old wannabe sleuth, a workers' strike, and a majority of smart and witty female characters.
I laughed out loud at the history lessons Jottie Romeyn gives Miss Layla Beck for The History of Macedonia. I cried with Willa on the roof. As the long-buried secret is revealed, layer by layer, I yelled at characters not to fall for the lies, and pitied them, and cheered when they found their strength.
The wonderful array of POV characters -there are three who help narrate the story, Aunt Jottie with the broken heart, the WPA writer Miss Layla Beck, and 12-year-old sneak Willa- offers varied perspectives of not only the story, but the many facets of the characters and the unfolding mystery. Learning more and more about the mystery the characters dig up was twice as interesting seeing it from so many different angles. I particularly loved the intermittent conversations via letters, a la Guernsey, between Layla Beck and her friends and family, and we are offered entertaining snippets of The History of Macedonia. The characters are all flawed, are all so human and genuine and conflicted. GAH!
Barrows did an excellent job bringing this story to life. In turns hilarious, heart-breaking, maddening, and always incredibly real, The Truth According To Us was a hard book to put down.
While I didn't enjoy this book as much as I adore Guernsey, I did like it (I'd probably read it again in a few years). This story is not quite as light-hearted, there's a semi-depressing element, some bedroom scene references/allusions, and occasional strong language.

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