Book Review: Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

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I don’t often read a book in day. I’m a slow reader by nature, so when I do devour a book in twenty-four hours, you can guarantee that I found the story absolutely magical. These addictive books pull me in and make me forget about reality. For their pages are filled with characters I can’t let go of and worlds I continue dreaming about for days, weeks, years (cough…Harry Potter). Truest was one of these books.

In fact, I was on a weekend writing retreat when I started to read Truest. And instead of working on my own novel, which was the entire purpose of the retreat, I kept wondering about Sommers’ characters and what would happen to them. I kept reading, kept going back to Sommers’ world.

Truest tells the story of teenager Westlin Beck, a pastor’s kid, whose life is turned around when a bright and hilarious boy, Silas, moves to their small Minnesota town. If Westlin’s realness jumps from the pages, then Silas’ leaps. These characters are breath itself, each full of their own life and wit. I enjoyed every moment of getting to know them through their realistic banter, taste in television shows, and t-shirt saying hilarity. Both West and Silas share a unique love of stories and poetry that inspired me to buy a copy of E.E. Cummings’ poems while at the bookstore last week. And anytime a character inspires me to do anything, I consider the book among my favorites.

Beyond her beautiful characters and amusing dialogue, Sommers’ story is relevant and raw in the best possible way. Sommers embraces some of life’s greatest and most difficult questions with untold grace and poise.

Likewise, Sommers’ setting is genuine. While Green Lake is fictitious in name, its Minnesota charm is not. A Minnesota girl myself, I loved this small town with all its enduring quirks, and I enjoyed seeing pieces of my own home amongst her prose.

Simply put, this book is incredible. If this is Sommers’ first novel, I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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