STARRED REVIEW
June 2015

Charmer of a coming-of-age tale

By Annie Barrows
For the irrepressible 12-year-old heroine of The Truth According to Us, growing up in the sleepy West Virginia mill town of Macedonia at the height of the Great Depression proves to be anything but depressing.
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BookPage Fiction Top Pick, June 2015

For the irrepressible 12-year-old heroine of The Truth According to Us, growing up in the sleepy West Virginia mill town of Macedonia at the height of the Great Depression proves to be anything but depressing.

Fans of Annie Barrows’ bestseller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, co-written with her aunt, will recognize the author’s affinity for breathing life into her characters. Here we meet young Willa Romeyn; Willa’s charming, albeit mysterious, father, Felix; the ever steady and steely Aunt Jottie; and the family’s summer boarder, the lovely Layla Beck.

Spoiled, sheltered Layla has been exiled to Macedonia by her senator father, who is fed up with her irresponsible behavior and ill-chosen suitors. The Works Progress Administration has hired her to write the town’s history—a literary project that holds far more intrigue, romance and adventure than she imagined. Layla is soon passionately and eloquently recording the tired town’s colorful and often scandalous history, diligently excavating the myriad skeletons buried in the closets of Macedonian high society, including the secrets of her landlords and newfound friends, the Romeyns. 

Despite her best intentions, Layla falls under Felix’s spell. Her adoration does not go unnoticed by the intuitive and envious Willa, who, upon investigating her father’s frequent absences and secretive second life as a “chemical” salesman, is starting to uncover hard truths about the family patriarch. 

Perhaps not surprisingly for the author of a best-selling middle-grade series (Ivy and Bean), Barrows has crafted a luminous coming-of-age tale that is sure to captivate her grown-up audience. Against a lively historical setting, the joys and hardships of the rollicking Romeyn family will keep readers eagerly turning pages.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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