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The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us (2015)

by Annie Barrows

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It’s autumn 1938. Hotter ‘n a coon dog. In Washington, D.C., socialite Layla Beck has decided that she doesn’t want to marry Nelson, the man her father cherry-picked for her. Senator Beck is outraged and cuts off the young woman, going to far as to have her put on relief and gets he a job with the WPA.
The WPA sends Layla to Macedonia, West Virginia, to write the small-town’s history. This seems odd as the reader is not given any indication that Layla can write a book however brief. Layla settles in at the Romeyns home.
There she encounters the household: 12-year-old Willa (who reminded me of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird); Willa’s younger sister, Bird; Aunt Jottie, Aunts Mae and Minereva: and Willa and Bird’s father, Felix. Nearby lives another uncle, Emmett.
Willa has reached an age where her perceptions are starting to heighten. She decides that she wants to attain the virtues of the town’s founder, General Magnus Hamilton: ferocity and devotion. In her new found qualities, she is keenly aware of the sparks, or something, flying through the air between Aunt Jottie and Mr. McKubin.
Layla, a beautiful young woman, attracts the attention of most of the men in town, but especially that of Willa’s father, Felix. He comes and goes in their lives like a ghost. Felix begins to show her around, while she is conducting her research. Layla is determined to do a good job.
As Layla digs into the town’s history, Willa practices ferocity and devotion and begins to uncover some interesting things about her family.
The story is told in alternate chapters between Willa and a third-person omniscient narrator. I was quickly pulled into the story. Even at 512 pages, the story flew by and I had trouble putting it down. It’s the perfect read for a lazy, hot summer weekend. ( )
  juliecracchiolo | Mar 12, 2018 |
After refusing to marry a wealthy, well-connected man, Layla Beck is cast out by her father, a U.S. Senator. He arranges for her to be hired by the Federal Writers’ Project. Her task is to write the history of a small West Virginia town for their upcoming sesquicentennial. She boards in the home of a once-prominent family—the Romeyns. Layla is drawn to Felix, the charming black sheep who travels frequently, and comes to befriend Jottie, who is the primary caregiver for Felix’s two daughters. Twelve-year-old Willa, who had begun to realize there were a number of topics the adults in her life avoided, senses the budding attraction between her father and Layla and decides she can better protect her father the more she knows about him, not realizing that she may not be prepared for what she learns. The story is told from three points of view—that of Layla, Jottie, and Willa; however, like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (co-authored by Barrows), it includes letters to and from Layla. It’s a charming blend of a coming-of-age story (Willa), a fish-out-of-water story (Layla), and finding the courage to face the past (Jottie). Willa may conjure up memories of Scout Finch, and this portrayal of small town Southern life in the Depression-era is likely to appeal to fans of Harper Lee, Fannie Flag, and Pat Conroy.

Rachel H. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
Before I review THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US, you should know my attitude going in: I resisted reading it. I had read the THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY and did not like it. So I did not want to read another book written by Annie Barrows. But Barrows had really been a co-author of GUERNSEY, whereas she is the sole author of THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US. And what a difference that makes!

It's 1938 and Layla has come to the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia, to write a book on the history of that town. She rents a room from a once prominent family in Macedonia, including 12-year-old Willa. Willa adores her father and wants to learn everything about him.

So while Layla investigates and discovers Macedonia and writes her book, Willa sneaks.

I read THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US only because my bookclub was reading it. It's sweet and it's predictable, the type of story that doesn't normally appeal to me. But it won me over with its snappy dialogue and its different perspectives on what Layla and Willa learn. ( )
  techeditor | Sep 20, 2017 |
Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It is 1938 and Ms. Layla Beck, the daughter of Delaware's Senator Grayson Beck, finds herself cut off due to her refusal to wed the man of her father's choosing. She finds herself on relief and is given a job with the Federal Writer's Project compiling a history of Macedonia, West Virginia which is to be completed before its' sesquicentennial.

Layla Buck finds a room with the Romeyn Family.The book shifts between Willa Romeyn, a 12 year old admitted sneak,who desperately loves her family and is trying to learn everything she can about her father who is often absent and most elusive and letters written by Layla Beck to her friends and family regarding her current situation.

The storyline, character development and dialog worked for me. The emotional fracturing, while perhaps understandable, was overdone. I thought the ending was abbreviated and disappointing. ( )
  kimkimkim | Aug 21, 2017 |
The Truth According to Us - Barrows
3 stars

Layla Beck comes to Macedonia, West Virginia to write a town history under the auspices of the Federal Writer’s Project. Of course, Layla doesn’t really need this New Deal job. Her father is a senator. He’s cut off her allowance because she won’t marry to please him. She rents a room with the Romeyn family and is immediately drawn into family drama complete with secrets and closet skeletons. The book is told from several perspectives, including precocious, 12-year-old, Willa Romeyn.
I was a bit disappointed in this one. It had the potential to be humorous and heartwarming, but it never quite got there. It reminded me a bit of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, but it didn’t come close to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society despite Annie Barrow’s editorial relationship to that book. There was plenty of pleasant small southern town atmosphere.( But too much conversation and description about the heat.) There was humor and but it wasn’t enough to balance the tragedy. Most of all,the loveable characters didn’t outweigh my dislike of the truly detestable characters. Maybe my expectations were too high. It wasn’t a terrible book. The characters came alive for me, but I ended up feeling disappointed with all of them. ( )
  msjudy | Aug 15, 2017 |
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385342942, Hardcover)

From the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right. 
Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her own opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. However, once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is completely drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is deeply entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.
At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues—ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business with which her charismatic father is always occupied and the reason her adored aunt Jottie never married. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a different tale about the Romeyns, and the invisible threads linking them to the heart of Macedonia’s history. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.
Praise for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“A jewel . . . poignant and keenly observed . . . a small masterpiece about love, war, and the immeasurable sustenance to be found in good books and good friends.”—People
“Affirms the power of books to nourish people enduring hard times.”—The Washington Post
“This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It’s as charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A book-lover’s delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“A poignant, funny novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit . . . This one is a treat.”—The Boston Globe
“Smart and delightful . . . Treat yourself to this book, please—I can’t recommend it highly enough.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:38 -0400)

"In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck's father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers' Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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