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The Truth According to Us: A Novel Paperback – June 14, 2016
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“[The Truth According to Us is] as delightfully eccentric as Guernsey yet refreshingly different. . . . It’s an epic but intimate family novel with richly imagined characters, an intriguing plot and the social sensibilities you would expect of a story set in the South. . . . The traumatized girls, Willa and Bird, are exquisitely portrayed and the lasting damage caused by the abandonment is sensitively rendered. Willa’s indomitable spirit, keen sense of adventure and innate intelligence reminded me of two other motherless girls in literature: Scout Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley’s big-hearted British mystery series. If Guernsey is a tribute to the power of books, The Truth According to Us is a testament to the toxicity of secrets. . . . Just as we did in Guernsey, we empathize with the characters as if they’re our neighbors. . . . Macedonia is a great place to spend some time this summer. The temperatures are soaring, but it’s nothing compared to the heat generated by this sizzling story.”—The Washington Post
“Annie Barrows creates a worthy successor to Lee’s beloved Scout Finch. . . . The Truth According to Us has all the characteristics of a great summer read: A plot that makes you want to keep turning the pages; a setting that makes you feel like you’re inhabiting another time and place; and characters who become people you’re sad to leave behind—and thus who always stay with you. As Jottie tells Willa at the beginning of the book, the ‘Macedonian virtues’ are ferocity and devotion. The Truth According to Us is the sort of book that inspires both.”—Miami Herald
“It takes a brave author to make the heroine of a new novel an observant and feisty girl . . . like Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. . . . But Barrows . . . has created a believable and touching character in Willa.”—USA Today
“[A] heartwarming coming-of-age novel [that] sparkles with folksy depictions of a tight-knit family and life in a small town . . . In a novel full of richly drawn, memorable characters, bright, feisty Willa is the standout. . . . Add The Truth According to Us to the stack of repeat-worthy literary pleasures.”—The Seattle Times
“A big, juicy family saga with warm humor and tragic twists, Truth is lively and engaging. . . . The story gets more and more absorbing as it moves briskly along.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A pleasant summer read . . . There is much to recommend this book: The characters are engaging, the historical details appear thorough and accurate, and there are sufficient conflicts and plot twists to render a compelling story.”—The Roanoke Times
“Fans of Annie Barrows’s bestseller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society . . . will recognize the author’s affinity for breathing life into her characters. . . . 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.”—BookPage
“In The Truth According to Us, Annie Barrows leaves no doubt that she is a storyteller of rare caliber, with wisdom and insight to spare. As she subtly unpacks the emotional intricacies of the Romeyn family and their small West Virginia town in the wake of the Great Depression, we’re struck by the slipperiness of history—how the stories we tell each other and ourselves often demand to be interrogated; how the things we’re driven know about our families, our towns, our closest intimates, will always change us, sometimes over and over. Barrows is at her best here. Every page rings like a bell.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
“The Truth According to Us is an irresistible novel, a sly charmer of a story about a small town in Depression-era West Virginia whose history is rewritten by a debutante on the run. Family histories, too, are unraveled, but mended by the fierce, strong women who dominate this delightful page-turner, a tribute to the power of love and forgiveness to heal even the most heartbreaking betrayals.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife
About the Author
Annie Barrows is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a runaway New York Times bestseller that was named one of the ten best books of the year by Time and USA Today. She is also the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean as well as The Magic Half and its sequel, Magic in the Mix. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Top customer reviews
Though the book mainly focuses on one family in particular, readers are introduced to many citizens of Macedonia, all with the quirks, agendas, and stories of their own.
For fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Barrow's does occasionally use letters as a means of communicating different character's perspectives. However, the book does not rely as heavily on these letters as Potato Peel Pie did.
I was drawn in from the beginning and had a very hard time putting down this nearly 500 page book. All the characters are so engaging that you feel like you are rocking on the front porch, drinking ice tea with sweat trickling down your back while eavesdropping on their conversations.
Perfect novel for book clubs, as there are many aspects of the book that are worth discussing: the characters, family relationships, what loyalty looks like, how history is remembered and recorded, the Depression, the Federal's Writers Project, etc.
She ends up as a boarder at the home of the Romeyns, who were once a great family in Macedonia. Jottie and Felix's father ran the mill and was regarded with great respect. Now Jottie runs the house and raises Felix's two daughters, Willa and Bird. Assorted aunts live there on and off, and sometimes Felix lives there as well. And so do secrets. A whole lot of secrets.
Twelve-year old Willa is determined to snoop and learn the long-hidden truth. Layla is determined to prove herself and live happily ever after with Felix. And Jottie keeps on keepin' on, happiness having eluded her years ago when the secrets were carefully hidden.
What a tangled web of secrets it is. Annie Barrows, who first captured my interest with THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY has written another book full of history and character and tragedy and love and loss. Once I started reading, I desperately needed to know all the hidden secrets, too.
That being said, here are the Top Ten Things That Are Great About THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US.
10. Annie Barrows can really write. GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY was done in the form of letters -- the epistolary style that created some of the first novels. In THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US, she uses letters, as well, though they are inter-woven with Willa's narrative and other points of view. The voices work well with each other, creating a complex layering that is beautifully done.
9. History. As Layla write her history of the 150-year old town, she discovers that history has many faces. And woven in with that is history in the mid 30s, the Depression trudging on, the labor unions working for fair wages, Prohibition, and many of its facets.
8. The book transports you to another time and place. You feel the pace of Southern life, the conversations on the porch drinking sweating glasses of sweet tea, trying to get through the heat of summer. You experience the things kids were able to do then, running loose, throwing fruit at each other. It's literary time travel.
7. The library. When I was a kid, the library was the best place ever. You could hide out among the shelves and lose yourself in other worlds, and then haul a stack of books home, reading all the way, and escape whatever you needed to escape. That's what the library is in the book.
6. Character, character, character. There's daring dashing sneaky Felix, wise-for-her-years Willa, ever-patient, ever-longing Jottie, ever-evolving Layla. Barrows writes great characters.
5. Not only does Barrows write great characters; when they speak it sounds natural, and it sounds like they would sound.
4. The characters grow and learn and evolve and become better or reap just desserts for their deeds. There are epiphanies. No one remains stagnant.
3. The book is full of little side stories, like life. As Layla interviews various townspeople or Jottie tells her stories, we hear all sorts of intriguing little tales that don't move the story forward, but give us context and enrichment and a great deal of vicarious amusement.
2. It's a Coming of Age story that's actually interesting.
1. What really happened in the mill that night? I absolutely had to know.