The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
Layla Beck is living well in Washington DC in the midst of the Great Depression when she has an extreme falling out with her father the Senator. He declares that she has to get a job and finds one through her uncle who works with the Federal Writers Project. Layla is sent to the town of Macedonia in rural West Virginia which is celebrating its sesquicentennial and wants a book to commemorate all the wonderful things that have happened in their town. Needless to say Layla is underwhelmed with the town after her metropolitan life, but she finds the family she boards with extremely interesting: especially single father Felix. As Layla spends time in Macedonia the people and the place grow on her. Unfortunately Layla doesn’t grow on young Willa, Felix’s oldest daughter. Willa plots and schemes on how to keep her father to herself, well, she’s willing to share him with her sister Bird, but not Layla. Secrets hide at the core of the family, and those secrets spill over into the very being of the town, and all will come out with the writing of the book.
This is a book you want to read in a rocking chair on your front porch sipping a cold glass of sweet tea. It’s leisurely paced, much like time seems to flow in Macedonia, and you want to mosey along with the characters to get their story. The part of Unions in small towns and the stark reality of the Great Depression comes through in small and big ways throughout the story. Was it a simpler time? Maybe. But the author shows how even simpler times could be complex when you are living them.
Told from different points of view with glimpses into the past as well as letters (naturally since the author is the co-author of the very successful epistolary novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) it evokes small town life and the past on every page.