Title: The Truth According to Us Author: Annie Barrows Published: June 9th 2015 by Random House Format: ebook; Hardcover, 486 pages Genre: Fiction Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this
You might have second thoughts as you begin, but I recommend that you stick with this long and meandering book. The characters take on a life of their own the deeper you delve in and when their story is over, you will miss them deeply.
Taking place in the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia during the late 1930’s, the reader is introduced to the Romeyn family. Told mostly through the eyes of young Willa and her aunt Jottie Romeyn, you see a family that loves deeply but yet there is tragedy that they must face.
What brings it all to the forefront is Layla Beck, the daughter of a U.S. Senator who has been banished from her family when she turned down a marriage proposal that her father thought was ideal for her. Layla had other ideas and now has to face the cold cruel world without her family’s money or influence.
During the depression, the Federal Writers’ Project created jobs that would help bring the realities of the time to the rest of America. Layla, now ensconced in the Romeyn’s home is to write the town’s history for their upcoming sesquicentennial.
Sparks fly when Layla moves into the Romeyns’ home, she sees first-hand this town’s many eccentricities and has to carefully balance each story’s truth. Having to battle both its people and her own family back home, Layla is determined to succeed. With her digging, old wounds are revealed and both Jottie and Willa will be the ones that suffer the most.
Like most families, there are secrets and tragedies. Felix Romeyn, the single father of Willa and Bird, is a gone a lot, though that does not mean that he cannot manipulate from afar. He loves his daughters, and they love him desperately, but there is more to his story.
Twelve-year-old Willa Romeyn, with her feisty spirit and indomitable curiosity, is very reminiscent of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. She loves her life, but when the realities can no longer be ignored, she must fight with everything she has to keep her family together. This will have a lasting effect and to see her spark of ferocity and devotion leave her will bring the reader to tears.
Jottie Romeyn is Felix’s sister. Eighteen years ago, she lost the love of her life and since that time, she has shut herself off. Her whole world now revolves around taking care of her nieces. When the past is finally exposed, decisions have to be made. Can she forgive? Does she have a choice? If there is a choice, will she make it?
The time and the place of this book is as much a character as any one living human being. Each person had a role to play and it is up to each character to perform their assigned part or to break from their character and live another life that was being offered. Not everyone is that strong. Not everyone is able to give up their comfort and challenge the future. When it comes to family, can you separate loyalty and the truth? Sometimes you have to make you own truth and make the best of what is left.