Having enjoyed reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society as much as I loved the title, I lost no time responding to the offer from Net Galley for an advance reading copy of Annie Barrows’s new book The Truth According to Us. This is the first solo adult book for Annie who co-wrote the first book with her aunt. Children’s book lovers will recognize her name from her books in the Ivy and Bean series.
The first line from the voice of twelve-year-old Willa promised a read much like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society in a different historical setting. “In 1938, the year I was twelve, my hometown of Macedonia, West Virginia, celebrated its sesquicentennial, a word I thought had to do with fruit for the longest time.”
As the community gets ready for that celebration, a newcomer with a New Deal job as part of the Federal Writers’ Project comes to town. Layla’s senator father has cut off her allowance, and she has come to earn her living by writing the town’s history for the celebration. With this setup, Layla gets a room with the Romeyn family, once prominent and now fallen from grace. She pieces together their versions of the truth bit by bit and interviews locals who give different versions of times gone by.
Wondering what really happened when the factory burned down, why Willa’s father Felix keeps floating in and out of her life, and the secrets that her aunt Jottie hides beneath her stoic exterior keep the reader turning pages and wanting to warn Layla of the mistake her rose-colored glasses have made about Felix’s true character. Well portrayed minor characters entertain as they move the story along.
The only forewarning I would give is to be aware that the narrator switches often, sometimes in the middle of a chapter. I found this distracting, particularly until I knew to watch for changes in the speaker, but the engaging story is worth this minor flaw. This book goes on sale June 9, and if you haven’t read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, you might want to purchase them together.