The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

June 22, 2015 Historical Fiction 15

Howdy Bookworms!

Remember once upon a time when we read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for The Fellowship of the Worms? And it was wonderful? Well. I was browsing NetGalley recently when I noticed that one of the authors of that charming book, Annie Barrows, had another offering coming up called The Truth According to Us. My requesting finger got all twitchy and I asked the publishing czars if I could pretty please have an advanced digital copy of the novel. They said yes, because they are very nice. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review consideration. The integrity of this review will be compromised by nothing except my limitations as a non professional reviewer and general weirdo.*

thetruthaccordingtousA depression era debutante named Layla attempts to break away from the shackles of her privileged life by accepting a job with the Federal Writer’s Project. It’s a bit of a scandal for a girl from a wealthy background to take on a relief position, but Layla has a thing or 10 she wants to prove. She’s assigned to write the history of Macedonia, West Virginia, a far cry from her metropolitan DC stomping grounds. She boards with the enigmatic Romeyn family. The Romeyns were once prominent in town, but scandal and tragedy have plagued their name for decades. A colorful cast of characters provide Layla with ample material to complete her project and weave themselves into the fabric of her life. (If you now have the jingle for the cotton commercials stuck in your head, I’m not even sorry. That is catchy as heck.)

You guys, I have all the mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to love it, I really did, but it just felt kind of disjointed. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been tired lately and I kept dozing off while reading before bed, but I had a hard time keeping things straight. It felt like some of the characters were thrown in as an afterthought and never fully developed. It wasn’t a bad book by any means. Jottie was a delight, and who wouldn’t love precocious little Willa? Still though, I’m left wondering if I’d have had a higher opinion of the book if Annie Barrows didn’t have so much to live up to. I feel like she lost a bit of the magic she had in writing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Talk to me Bookworms! Have you ever read a book that you didn’t completely adore but couldn’t put your finger on why? 

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15 Responses to “The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I felt the same way you did about this…but, I didn’t finish it. There were certainly some things I liked about it (Jottie, the portrayal of small town life), but things just moved way too slowly and it was way too long. I gave up at 67%. I’d be willing to go back to it if someone tells me the ending is awesome, but I haven’t heard that yet 🙁

  2. thatashgirl

    It’s always a little disappointing when an author doesn’t meet up to expectations. I get that it’s a lot of pressure to live up to a hit but that second read is always what will make or break an author for me. This goes double if it’s a series and book 2 kinda flops. *cough* Matched.

    • Words For Worms

      I thought it was sophomore slump, but then I saw she’s written a bunch of kids books. Maybe that’s just a better fit for her? I don’t know, I haven’t read them.

  3. Rhian

    I’d have to check, but I always thought that “Guernsey” (sorry being lazy) was written by Mary Ann Shaffer and that Annie Barrows’ involvement was limited to rewrites. So I read The Truth According to Us with no expectations that it was going to be as awesome.

    There was a lot I liked about this, though some of the outcomes were a little obvious. I was slightly annoyed that Willa’s bits were in the first person and the rest wasn’t, but mostly because I’m not a fan of “exposition via naive child” as a literary device.

    • Words For Worms

      I knew that Guernsey was co-written but I imagined Barrows had had more input. Obviously I didn’t research it very closely. And I hear you, “exposition via naive child” isn’t my favorite either. I think I was mostly annoyed with Emmett’s lack of development. I mean, it was clear from the beginning what his role would be, but he was so background-y that I couldn’t root for him the way I’d have liked to.

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Yep, the expectations gap can be a real killer. That’s why I haven’t picked this book up yet — Guernsey is SUCH a favorite comfort read of mine, it’d be hard for any book to live up to it. Let alone one set in 19th-century America. So not my period.

  5. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    How disappointing! I always hate when I feel like I should love a book, but I just don’t. The feeling that it was a near miss is particularly frustrating.

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