Review Blog

Sep 04 2015

The truth according to us by Annie Barrows

cover image

Bantam, 2015. ISBN 9780857987945
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Highly recommended. Layla Beck, the daughter of a US senator, is sent to the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia as part of the Federal Writers' Project to author a history of the town. It is 1938 and Layla is convinced that she will be bored by small town life. Used to an idle life of luxury, Layla stays in a house with the Romeyn family, and she is the spark that brings to light many of the secrets that the Romeyn's harbour. Meanwhile the curiosity of 12 year old Willa Romeyn about her charismatic father, Felix and what his business entails, and her thoughts about why her aunt Jottie remains unmarried, will also transform the Romeyn's world.
Co-author of the very popular, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows does not disappoint in this almost 500 page story that is very difficult to put down. Right from the first chapter, the reader is drawn into the complex life of the Romeyns and the life of Layla Beck who gradually discovers that she does like researching and writing. The occasional use of letters from Layla to her friends gives an intimate and often funny look into the life of the townspeople and allows the reader to get to know Layla as well.
Each of the central characters is deftly drawn with skilled detail and even the minor townspeople come alive in this sweeping tale of southern life. There are eccentrics and wonderful people all portrayed with a deft hand. The reader is swept along by the lives of the people in Macedonia, especially hoping that Layla will not be taken in by the charm of Felix, all the time wondering just what he does for a living, as Willa carefully follows him to try and find out more about him. There is a mystery surrounding the burning of the family mill and the death of Vause, whom Jottie had loved, and this thread keeps the reader in suspense until the final chapters.
This is a funny, quirky book with endearing characters that would allow for much discussion about the Depression, the real Federal Writers' Project, the secrets that are kept in families and the power of familial love.
Pat Pledger

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