Review: Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Truest by Jackie Lea SommersTruest by Jackie Lea Sommers
Published by Katherine Tegen on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

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.

One thing that’s been true about me as a reader for a few years now is that I’m willing to try a lot of different sorts of books. There are some things that straight up don’t sound like Christina books that I’ll avoid, but I try bunches that I’m skeptical about. Often, this results in a DNF or a middling rating, but I’m glad I do step outside the books that are obviously me books because I would miss out on books like Truest. I don’t think Truest was even on my radar really, but it arrived bundled up with a Harper ARC I’d requested. The synopsis didn’t super excite me, but it didn’t make me go nope nope nope either. Plus, there were books on the cover. Truest was one of those rare surprises, a book I had no expectations of that immediately captured my heart and punched me in the feels.

From the blurb, I sort of thought Truest was going to be love triangle melodrama. That’s sort of true and sort of not. Yes, there is a love triangle and, yes, there is a lot of drama, though calling it melodrama feels a bit pejorative. Though the novel starts out pretty fluffy, there’s serious stuff at work here and I don’t know that it was really overdramatic. In fact, Sommers resolves a lot of things in a much less dramatic way than I would have anticipated, playing against some common tropes. This is a book that will make you laugh, smile, and cry, at least if it gets to your heart like it did to mine.

Westlin Beck is a PK, and she’s not very excited about her summer. Her best friend has gone to work at an adventuring camp as a counselor without her, leaving West behind to run their car detailing business alone, which is especially confusing since she thought she and Trudy were both not outdoorsy, adventuring people. West’s hot Filipino boyfriend, Elliot, will be too busy working the family farm and going to football practice to spend too much time with her. Not to mention the fact that West’s dad spends more time aiding his flock than his family. West feels lonely and abandoned.

Enter the Hart family. West goes along with her dad when he visits them; he’s doing communion for the younger sister, for mysterious reasons that will be revealed in time. Silas Hart answers the door and looks at West with great disdain. Then, they’re told to go hang out while the dad does his thing, and she finds out that he has awesome taste in books. Despite the awkward beginning, which is one of the few things I side-eye about the book because it’s a bit Edwardy to be like “I liked you too much immediately so I made a grossed out face,” the two have an immediate, intense connection. Plus, her dad enlists West to help her with the car detailing.

Truest does the whole cheating thing right. West has a boyfriend and Silas has a girlfriend. You all know how much I hate books about infidelity and Truest was obviously headed there. I’m not going to give details except to say that there was a bit, but that it worked for me. The thing is that Sommers really made me feel West’s dilemma. Elliot is a truly good guy. He’s not turned into some sort of villain to make Silas the clear choice; West just doesn’t have the same mental or physical chemistry with him that she does with Silas. She and Silas share a love of fiction, philosophy, and trivia. They have the nerdiest conversations and despite the awfulness I knew would probably be coming, I shipped it SO FUCKING HARD. Tbh, Silas is a new book boyfriend of mine (I saw him FIRST, guys) and was from the first nerdy t-shirt. Really, though, despite my shipping it massively, I do think Sommers handled the situation really well and minimized the associated drama, but not in an unrealistic way where everyone’s totally cool with it.

Then there’s the big, heartbreaking plot line that introduced me to some things I did not know before. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that there’s something going down with Silas’ sister, Laurel, which is obvious from that first scene. It was really interesting. What makes everything work so well for me is that Laurel isn’t just THE THING. I came to truly care for Laurel, and her struggles, while odd and like nothing I’ve encountered before, gave me great pain. View Spoiler » It’s beautiful and honestly risky, because I’m not sure what readers are going to make of Laurel’s secret. I’ll be curious to see the reaction.

The faith aspect of Truest made me super nervous, but I thought it was handled beautifully. There’s a lot of stuff about God and belief, and pretty much all of the main characters are devout Christians. Normally, this sort of thing would have me running for the hills, but Truest doesn’t come across as preachy and most of the discussion of god is of a more theological/philosophical bent, and I love those things.

Tied up in West’s views of religion obviously is her home life. Her dad used to be wonderful and involved, but, as she’s grown, he’s spent more time ministering. He’s a huge help to the community and a great man, as everyone tells her, but the family almost never sees him. Whenever he’s home he’s exhausted and generally in his room trying to get past a migraine. The portrayal hits on how hard it can be to have a parent who is a good person but gives too much of themselves outside of the home. I really liked though that the father wasn’t some sort of villain and how things were handled with that.

Truest is a beautiful, nerdy, heartbreaking, shippy book, and I hope you guys also give it a chance. I can’t wait for more books by Sommers because this debut is sensational.

Favorite Quote:

“I guess I should be happy I stand on the reader side of literature,” I said, savoring the sugary crunch in my mouth. “The writer side sounds like masochism.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i give too many f's

4 responses to “Review: Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers”

  1. Okay, I have to read this now. Your review is so great, I want to go out and read it immediately! I was a bit unsure -the synopsis didn’t fully convince me- but I’ll definitely give it a try now.

    Great review!
    Jolien @ The Fictional Reader recently posted…London Book Haul | Pan Macmillan & Secondhand GemsMy Profile

  2. Rebecca says:

    I already had this on my TBR, yet I wasn’t sold. But now I am! This sounds great and pretty underrated, too? Hoping this will be a lovely surprise for me, like it was for you. Ship, here I come! Fabulous review.

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed a book that you were unsure of… that’s always fun!! The religion (and Edward) aspect has me a little nervous, but I still think I’d like to give it a shot. I don’t mind a book with cheating in it, if it’s done in a certain way. And I really want to know Laurel’s secret!!! Great review!
    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books recently posted…So Obsessed…. (10)My Profile

  4. shae says:

    OH FINE. Now I have to stick it on my list. (Great review!)

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