2015: The Truth According to Us

“In 1938, the year I was twelve, my hometown of Macedonia, West Virginia, celebrated its sequicentennial, a word I thought had to do with fruit for the longest time."

The Truth According to Us, Annie Barrows

This is the newest book by one of the authors of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book I found charming and adored (yes, even though it is set on a Nazi occupied island in WWII.).  That book was co-written by a woman and her niece, and the woman died, and the niece, Ms. Annie Barrows has now written another book. So I was very excited to speed read it (you only get 7 days) from my library.

Alas, I was disappointed.  Don’t misunderstand - the book is fine, and had I just grabbed it without the Guernsey connection I doubt I would have been disappointed.  But it lacks the ineffable charm of the other book, and I was sad.  You know how much I love those sweet books (Miss Buncle, et. al) and Guernsey managed to be sweet, and take on a serious topic.  This book is just fine - but it lacks something.

Anyway, it’s set in West Virginia during the Depression.  A young woman has left her family (an overbearing Senator from Delaware) to prove that she can make it on her own, and ends up being hired by the WPA to write a town history of Macedonia, WV.  Interspered with her efforts is the story of a young girl (obviously I have forgotten everyone’s names, even though I finished this book three days ago), who lives in the house where the daughter is boarding.  She is trying to figure out her family’s history, which is murkily hid in shadow.  Why were they once a first family, and now sort of bedraggled? What his her charming father’s hidden secret? Why is her aunt so sad? 

You know I like books about family sagas and secrets, but it’s pretty tough to write a book about a young girl in the South and make it sing - you’ve got to compete with Scout, of course, and this book also very much reminded me of Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend - though less intense (and with more answers at the end).  There is some good stuff here - some characters are well done (the aunt is pretty amazing, actually), the answer to the mysteries are satisfying, but in the end, something was just missing.  A fine read, but just not what I wanted.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017