Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

5 out of 5 stars

A breathtaking debut brings us the unforgettable story of a small-town love, big dreams, and family drama.

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand-new to town, Silas is different from 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. Perfect for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have).

My Review
This is one of my favorite young adult stories of the year. This unique, captivating tale of teens searching for who they are and where they fit into the greater world around them has something nearly everyone can identify with. Westlin Beck is a small-town preacher’s daughter who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. The summer before senior year, her best friend is off working at a summer camp and her long-term boyfriend, Elliot, is working his tail off at the farm to earn enough money to buy a car, leaving West lonely and bored. She has her own car detailing business and when a new family moves to town, including teenage twins Silas and Laurel, West’s dad enlists Silas’s help for the detailing business.

Truest is an honest portrayal of the complexities of teen love. There  are no cliched love triangles here. Only the ebbing and flowing of emotions as two people realize they have more in common with each other than anyone else, even if one of those people is already in a relationship with someone else

The plot is multi-faceted, taking on a number of topics, from teen love, to mental illness, parental relationships, breaking free, and finding your place in the world. All these pieces are woven together beautifully, with a golden thread of truth binding them. It’s hard to do justice to the plot, because it’s so much more than just a romance, just a coming of age, or just a story of mental illness. It’s about teens grappling with the life they’ve been dealt to the best of their abilities, and searching for meaning in the midst.

Every character, from West and Silas, to Elliott, Laurel and Whit, are thoroughly developed and come alive between the pages. Not one character comes across as cliche’d, not even Westlin as the rebellious preacher’s daughter, because there is so much more to her than that. She doesn’t rebel for attention or for the sake of rebellion, but as a way to find herself in the only way she knows how. Elliott, as the scorned boyfriend, is far more three-dimensional than is necessary for his character, but that just adds to the realism of the story as a whole.

The writing is magnificent and fluid, pulling me along on a wandering journey, making me want to lie back and see where the current takes me.

I wasn’t sure about the ending at first, but the more time and distance between finishing the book and writing the review, the more I realize it was the absolute perfect ending to fit the themes of the story.

What I Loved About Truest
1. Attention to detail.
 The author spends a great deal of time bringing us into the story and not just through scene setting, but by getting us into her character’s. Although the story is told through West’s point of view, I never felt as if the other characters were just there to support West’s story — they all serve a purpose.
2. Organic growth. The honest portrayal of teens is a slice of fresh air. Teens rarely fall in love for life with the person they’re dating in high school, regardless of how popular much of young adult fiction makes it seem otherwise. When West began developing feelings for Silas, they came naturally and felt real, not forced to fulfil a plot point, nor did I lose respect for her. She struggled the way an ordinary teen in a similar situation did without over-dramatization.
3. The reality of mental illness. I’d never heard of solipsism before reading Truest, and my guess is most people haven’t either. The honesty with which this illness is treated is one of the best parts of the story. It’s an unusual disease that won’t make sense to many people, but the fact that so many characters in the book showed their ignorance rather than abject acceptance brought yet another breadth of realism to the story.
4. Lack of easy answers. It would have been too easy for the author to wrap everything up in a fitting denouement that left us breathless, but that’s not life and would not have been true to the themes she introduced us to.
5. Symbolism. While we don’t get a nice neat package at the end, we get symbolism throughout and an opportunity to see for ourselves what the answers are, or what we believe they should be.

Bottom Line
Truest is a stunning young adult contemporary story of loving, longing, and finding yourself.

I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


About the Book
Title: Truest
Author: Jackie Lea Sommers
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | BAM! | Book Depository | IndieBound | Powell’s | Fishpond | HarperCollins


Author Jackie Lea Sommers

Author Jackie Lea Sommers

About the Author
Jackie Lea Sommers lives and loves and writes in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long.

She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize.

She dislikes OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She likes book boyfriends, cranky teenagers, and Minnesota springs.

Truest is her first novel.

Where to Find Jackie Lea Sommers
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr

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