Author: Annie Barrows
Many, many novels choose that young pre-teenage protagonist with whimsical and tragic parents and I thought perhaps this was another re-do on that all American theme by Annie Barrows. I was wrong. Willa Romelyn, twelve, does delight us in the tantalizing way that Scout and Idgie have done in previous generations, and yet, Barrows creates a different and unique glow in precocious Willa.
The Romelyns were once a first family in small town Macedonia, West Virginia. But now in 1938, the family has fallen into the scare of the Depression and the fall of its chosen son, Felix. The rest of the family consist of Felix’s sisters, Lottie, the twins Mae and Minerva, and Emmett, his younger brother. Felix is divorced and Willa and Bird are his young daughters who are being raised by Lottie. Mae and Minerva are married, but spend 5 days out of the week living in the family home with Lottie and the children because they miss each other as twins do. Their husbands see them in their own homes on the weekends.
Willa’s grandfather, St. Clair Romelyn, who has passed away, was the president of the only big industry and employer in town, the American Everlasting Hosiery Company. He was known throughout Macedonia as a kind, caring and benevolent head of the company. But because of a horrific incident involving Felix, the company burnt down, and when it was rebuilt a Mr. Shank was voted President.
When spoiled Layla Beck comes to town because her rich father Senator Beck has refused to support her anymore, she has a job to do. She is now on “support” or welfare as her father has cut her off, and her uncle has gotten her a job with the WPA/Federal Writer’s Project, a project that takes people on “support” and offers those projects as jobs. Layla’s project is to write a history of small town Macedonia and she has to move to West Virginia from Washington to do so. And she boards in a room Lottie has for rent to make ends meet.
As the collusion of Layla, The Romelyn family, Felix, Lottie’s dead beloved Vause, the townsfolk, and the characters involved in the arson fire that destroyed not only the American Everlasting Hosiery Company building but all of Lottie’s loves and dreams come together in a ferociously emotional plot, The Truth According to Us erupts into one of the best novels of the summer.
A story of strong women, family betrayals and loyalties, young love and tragic misunderstandings, seen through the discerning eyes of young Willa Romelyn, 12 year old connoisseur of family secrets, The Truth According to Us is a stunner revealing one family caught in the Great Depression and the hidden world of love and loyalty and all that it creates. Wonderfully written, vivid and heartbreaking, this is one novel you will want to read again and again!
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
The Truth According to Us: A Novel is available for purchase on Amazon.com and at bookstores nationwide