Published by Katherine Tegen Books on 9/1/15
Genres: Depression & Mental Illness, Romance, Young Adult
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, and it is shown somewhat but not really described)
Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.
This book! Even though I just finished it last night, I couldn’t wait to come write my review. Usually I hold off on declaring books all-time favorites, but I think I’m going to break that rule too. There was just so much about Truest to love! On the surface, there’s not a lot going on – this is definitely a character-driven book rather than a plot-driven book. But, man, did I love these characters!
When Silas comes to town, West isn’t looking for anything. She’s happy, for the most part. She’s been with her boyfriend, Elliott for the past two years – known him her whole life. Sure, he’s working on the farm this summer and her best friend is off being a counselor at a camp, so she’s a bit lonely, but not unhappy – right? But Silas is different than anyone West has ever met. He wants to truly know her, and it makes her realize how her relationships have all been based on very surface things – a shared history and comfort, but nothing deeper. And more than that, Silas’s sister has a mental health issue that rocks West’s world and makes her think about the meaning of everything – her life and the world around her. She begins to examine things that she never thought to look at before.
What fed my addiction:
- Beautiful writing. Before I mention anything about the story, I just have to say that the writing in this book was gorgeous. There were SO many things that I highlighted – so many lines and moments that spoke to me. And this book made me FEEL SO MANY THINGS! So many beautiful, wonderful and awful things. Sommers is an incredible new voice in the YA world, and I’m so thankful that I found her!
- Family issues. All wrapped up in the main characters’ personal stories were the family ties that helped shape them. I’ll talk about Silas’s family issues in just a moment and focus on West for now. She struggled with her “perfect” family. Everyone saw her pastor father as a saint – and he actually was in a lot of ways. It was obvious that West’s father truly cared about the people in his congregation and his community and he tried hard to be everything for them. The problem was that he spent so much time taking care of people that needed him that he forgot to focus on his own family – and they got left by the wayside. I thought that this was a fantastic example of how we can sometimes do the wrong thing even when we’re trying so hard to do good. West’s father’s motives were never called into question – but his actions were.
- The ramifications of mental health issues. Then there was Silas and his family. Laurel’s illness affected his family deeply, and Silas wrestled with his feelings throughout the book. On the one hand, he loved his sister fiercely, and much of his life revolved around her health and happiness. But, because of that, he couldn’t help but feel frustrated and even angry with her at times, which of course led to guilt. His parents also struggled with how to deal with her illness – and sometimes they all failed. I felt like this was such an accurate portrayal of how an illness like this affects families and loved ones. The overall message of this book was hope – but there was also fear, pain, sorrow, anger, guilt and even despair along the way.
- Religious undertones. Maybe undertones isn’t the right word for this – the book definitely had a pretty strong message about God, but I hope that won’t chase people away, because this was really a book about self-discovery and faith, not about “religion.” Silas’s faith keeps him grounded and helps him deal with the pain of his sister’s illness, even while Laurel herself questions her whole reality, including the existence of God. West, as a pastor’s daughter, obviously knows about God, but she hasn’t spent much time thinking about him – and she hasn’t felt his presence in her life in a long time. I loved how Sommers wove a message of faith into this book without ever making it feel preachy or saccharine sweet.
- West and Silas. I can’t talk about this book without at least mentioning how much I loved Silas and West, both individually and together. I feel like I can’t do enough justice to either of them, so I’ll just say that you should read the book and love them the way I did!
- Cheating. Okay, you all know that I have an issue with cheating in books. But I have to say that somehow Sommers made me relate to West SO incredibly well that I completely understood how her friendship with Silas headed toward something more and how confused and guilty and exhilarated she felt by it all. Mostly, I was okay with it because it felt so real – West didn’t make perfect choices, but she made realistic ones.
This book touched me in so many ways. I never reread, but I feel like this is the type of book that I could reread over and over and still want more. Still learn more. Obviously, this book gets 5/5 stars and it also makes it onto my All-Time Favorites list.
***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Jackie Lea Sommers is a young adult author who lives in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Her first novel Truest will be published by HarperCollins in September 2015.
Jackie grew up on a hobby farm but has made the Twin Cities her home for nearly 15 years after moving there to study creative writing at the University of Northwestern. She hates OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She loves Jesus, Augustus Waters, and Minnesota springs.