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The Truth According to Us

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  14,716 ratings  ·  2,538 reviews
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to g ...more
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by The Dial Press
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Tamara I've read half the book and not so far, in my opinion. It depends on what you are sensitive to though. If "Oh, for God's sake" qualifies as bad…moreI've read half the book and not so far, in my opinion. It depends on what you are sensitive to though. If "Oh, for God's sake" qualifies as bad language to you, then yes. I have not reached the one f-bomb reported. (less)
Nina Wagner Mae and Minerva are Jottie's twin sisters.

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars. A tale of secrets and intertwined lives in the small, one-factory town of Macedonia, West Virginia in 1938. This historical West Virginia novel is by the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of 12 year old Willa Romeyn, her 36 year old aunt Josephine (Jottie) Romeyn, and Layla Beck, a young woman from a wealthy and prominent family who is boarding with Jottie for the summer while she writes a history of the to
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book could have used serious editing--as in cutting at least 150 pages--and more diligent focus on characters, narrative and plot. As you’ll note from the description, the author was partly responsible for The Guernsey Literary Society, a book that simply oozed with charm and lovable characters, and I am left to wonder how much input this author had in that book’s success. How many ways did this story disappoint?

1. Length. It took over 250 pages before anything really happened. I think half
Angela M
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is so very much about time and place , that this small town called Macedonia in West Virginia in 1938 , is almost another character . Such a clear sense of place is depicted ! With descriptions like this you can't help but see it :

"Bird and I trudged along Academy Street in silence . I suppose if you'd never seen them before, all the houses on our street looked the same, big and white - brick. If you gazed through the polished lens of experience, though , each one was different. You co
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really only read this book because I knew the author co wrote The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but I am very glad I did read it because it is good. I fell in love with many of the characters especially Willa and Jottie and in the end I sat and read way past my bed time because I had to find out what happened to everyone. The ending turned out to be realistic rather than happy ever after but that was okay. This is one of those books which sucks you in with perfect descriptions ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars. Annie Barrows wrote the Ivy and Bean books which I read over and over with my daughter when she was younger. And reading The Truth About Us was like reading a version of Ivy and Bean for adults -- which is mostly a positive thing. Barrows tells an excellent story -- a good yarn! Told from the perspective of Leila, Willa and Jottie, the story takes place in 1938 in Macedonia, a small town in West Virginia. Leila comes to Macedonia from Washington to write a hist ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
What can I say? This books starts out with it being the summer of 1938.....and boy, did I feel like I was there in thick of that sweltering heat. That's what I loved most about this book: it made me me feel like I was in West Virginia. I could see everyone so plainly. I saw everyone sitting out on their porches, drinking their iced tea, and stopping by saying hello. All the characters were right there in my sight: Jottie, Layla, Willa & Bird, Minerva & Mae....all the secondary characters ...more
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
As the title suggests, the characters in this book are delving into secrets to find out the truth--and there may be more than one truth. The narrator is twelve-year-old Willa Romeyn, a likable, precocious girl in the small West Virginian town of Macedonia. She has been eavesdropping on conversations, and sneaking around trying to find out the truth about her father Felix's occupation, family secrets, and life in general.

Another truth-seeker is Layla, a young woman boarding with the Romeyns who i
Susan Johnson
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's summer time, hot, and you want to lay out on a hammock, sip a lemonade and read a good book. This is a great one to do that. Written by the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society it takes place in the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia, during the Great Depression.

Layla Beck is the spoiled daughter of an U.S. Senator who one rebels by refusing to marry the man selected for her to marry. Sen. Beck is so enraged that he cuts her off without a dime and signs her u
Quaint. However, the novel dragged so badly that I simply gave up.
3.5 stars. A charming and quaint story with memorable characters set during the depression.

It's a dripping hot summer in 1938 and Layla Beck is being punished by her father, a Senator, for not agreeing to marry the boring chap he has chosen for her. The punishment is a job with the WPA writing a history of a small Virginia town, celebrating its sesquicentenial. This lands Layla in a prominent household of the communty as a boarder, and soon she has set the family on its ear, striking up a relati
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was well on its way to being a 5-star review - right up until the very end. I loved the way Annie Barrows described the fictional town of Macedonia, West Virginia. She made me feel like I was living in Small Town, USA during 1938. The story was told from the perspective of three females - Layla Beck, the daughter of a senator who was sent to Macedonia to write its history after she refused to marry the man of her father's choosing; Jottie Romeyn, the owner of the home where Layla boarded wh ...more
Sharon Siepel
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How can I even begin to describe how much I enjoyed reading this book? The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows unravels the secrets of a small Depression-era West Virginia town through the eyes of 12 year old Willa and Layla, a young woman assigned by Roosevelt's Writer Project to research and write the history of town in time for its 150th birthday.

Though the book mainly focuses on one family in particular, readers are introduced to many citizens of Macedonia, all with the quirks, agendas, a
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Let's get this right out in the open - this is NOT another Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The primary author of that book club favorite was ailing when she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to help her finish it. The Truth According to Us, although it is partially epistolary, is a very different read with a much more bittersweet tone.

The novel uses several different POVs to tell the Depression-era story of Layla Beck, a spoiled socialite whose father cuts her off when she refuses
(3.5) They say there are only two basic plots: a stranger comes to town, or the hero sets off on a journey. Well, here’s the first of those in action. This atmospheric historical novel is set in the sweltering summer of 1938. Layla Beck, a spoiled senator’s daughter, has been sent to Macedonia, West Virginia by the WPA to document the town’s story in advance of its sesquicentennial. Her uncle pulls strings to get her the job even though he thinks his flighty niece is “exactly as fit to work on t ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Full Disclosure:
This book was sent to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was written by Annie Barrows who is a co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society . The majority of the tale is told from the POV of a 12 year old girl named Willa. While Willa is witty and insightful I just couldn't suspend belief long enough to fully engage with her as a 12 year old girl. The other characters are well written and hold a certain charm while lacking in significant
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This was a strange read, one that I both liked, but less than I had hoped and expected. To be honest, I found the book a wee bit too long. Somehow, it felt like it could've been tightened, and although the last chapters, after the "reveal", were needed, they still seemed to drag a little.

The style here mixes present tense first person narrative, past tense third person narrative, and excerpts from letters. I liked the tone o
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
I adored The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And though Annie Barrows really only helped finish that book for her aunt, that was 99% of why I snatched up this ARC. (Also, I love books that take place in West Virginia, as it's kind of my secondary home state)

This is about Layla, a privileged young woman whose independent streak has resulted in being cut off by her well-to-do family in the depths of the Depression. She ends up assigned to work on the Federal Writer's Project in Mace
Ce roman, très attendu depuis que j'avais été enchantée par Le cercle littéraire des amateurs d'épluchures de patates, co-écrit par Annie Barrows et sa tante Mary Ann Shaffer, ne lui arrive sans doute pas à la cheville, mais offre malgré tout un instant de lecture absolument réjouissant. L'histoire nous balade gentiment, au cours des 600 pages, à travers les rues de Macedonia et en compagnie d'une brochette de personnages attachants, qui se plaisent à colporter toutes sortes de fables et dressen ...more
Lynn G.
I really enjoyed this story, especially the different versions of 'truth' proffered by the different characters. Willa, the narrator, concludes in the epilogue: "The truth of other people is a ceaseless business. You try to fix your ideas about them, and you choke on the clot you've made."

In a small way The Truth According to Us reminds me of the Japanese Rashomon tale that explores four different characters' testimonies of the same event; they collide and diverge depending on each character's
Several years ago I read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I enjoyed it so much that I felt sure I would enjoy a novel by one of its authors, and I chose to read this novel on the strength of that. I was right!

"The truth according to us" is set in the fictional mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia in 1938. The characters are richly drawn and the book's pace is as slow as the sultry summer in which the story unfolds.

The town, situated o
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Stars

Set in the 1930s, The Truth According to Us follows the intersecting lives of three women living in the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia.

The historical fiction elements and the vivid imagery created by the author made for quite a captivating read.

The aspect of the story I found particularly interesting was how the “truth” of history can be fictionalized by the people telling it. One of the main characters (Layla Beck) was tasked with crafting a written history of the town of Macedo
Melissa Rochelle
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015, arc, ebook
I like stories set in small-towns. I like historical fiction. I like family secrets. I like books that use letters (or other documents) to tell a story.

I should have devoured this book and demanded more at the end, but no. I liked it, but I really wanted to love it.

3.5 stars

It's summer 1938 in Macedonia, West Virginia. Willa Romeyn lives with her smart Aunt Jottie, quirky twin Aunts Mae and Minerva, her little sister Bird, and her there-one-minute-gone-the-next father Felix. She's an excellent s
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

I really liked this book, although I'll admit that going into it I expected that I was going to *love* it. To that end, it fell short. The book is entirely too long, and with tighter editing could be shortened by at least 100 pages, resulting in a more powerful story.

After refusing to marry a man of her parents' choosing, Layla Beck is cut off from her family's money and forced to get a job through the Works Progress Administration writing the history of Macedonia, West
Lisa B.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Layla Beck is sent to Macedonia, WV as part of the Federal Writers’ Project. She boards with the Romeyn family. Under their roof lives Felix, his sister Jottie and his two daughters Willa and Bird. His other two sisters, Mae and Minerva (both married) are part time residents. We also spend time with another brother Emmett and a childhood friend, Sol. As Layla researches the town’s history, she uncovers several secrets. Not just about Macedonia, but also about the Romeyns.

I absolutely love when a
Syrie James
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this novel. The story takes place in Macedonia, a fictitious small town in West Virginia in the summer of 1938, and the author did a wonderful job of setting the time and place so that you really feel that you are there. I liked that there were three narrators--12-year-old Willa, her Aunt Jottie, and Layla, the young woman who's come to town to interview the locals to write the history of Macedonia. I enjoyed following the story from their different POVs. I especially loved read ...more
Jamise // Spines & Vines
I could not wait for this book to end. While I love Annie Barrows writing style this book was about 150 pages too long. What Barrows gets right is the ability to make the reader feel like they are imbedded in the story. You feel the hot suffocating weather, taste the cool ice cream on a summer day and see the fireflies at night. Set in 1930's West Virginia, I enjoyed the characters, the Romeyn family dynamic and the intriguing storyline of the town history being unearthed by a high society debut ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every family has hidden stories in its past. Tales of love and togetherness, others of disappointment, betrayal, even tragedy. Posed black-and-white photos can only hint at the day-to-day specifics of our forebears' lives. The only way to know the truth is if you were there.

But, as suggested by Annie Barrows’ (co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) first standalone novel for adults, sometimes even that isn’t enough. As one wise character notes early on, “All of us see a
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I grew up EXACTLY in the region where this book takes place. I could not read this without getting a "Bizzarro" vibe throughout the whole thing. Very few people write books about West Virginia, it seems like. So the few ones who do really get the hairy eyeball treatment.

Item 1: Macedonia does not exist. It looks like the author threw together a mishmash of Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs, WV. Sock factories and apple orchards are accurate. But the names are all OFF, which brings me to:

Item 2: C
Eva • All Books Considered
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Review originally posted at All Books Considered: 5 STARS

After Station Eleven, this is my favorite book I've read this year. Set in the summer of 1938, I could feel the oppressive heat and rebel sympathies oozing out of the pages that I couldn't stop turning. Even though Macedonia, West Virginia is a fictional place, you couldn't put that past me. That is, I felt I was there and it was the summer of 1938 as I was reading -- the descriptions were so vivid and so engaging. Willa Romeyn is a soot
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's 1938 in Macedonia, W. Va. Small town USA. Very small town. Everyone knows everyone, everyone thinks they know everyone, most gossip about everyone. Yes I'm sure you get the picture. Twelve year old Willa has decided to listen and pay attention to all forms of conversation with 'ferocity and devotion'. Lyla Beck, suddenly cut off from all fatherly funding, comes to stay at Willa's house as a boarder. Lyla is working for the WPA as a writer. Come to town to write the history of this little un ...more
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Annie grew up in Northern California, and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, with a degree in Medieval History. Unable to find a job in the middle ages, she decided upon a career as an editor, eventually landing at Chronicle Books in San Francisco, where she was in charge of "all the books that nobody in their right mind would publish." After earning an M.F.A. in Creative Wri ...more
“I’ve learned that history is the autobiography of the historian, that ignoring the past is the act of a fool, and that loyalty does not mean falling into line, but stepping out of it for the people you love.” 5 likes
“I have since wondered, of course, how my life would have been different if I'd decided to stay home that morning. This is what's called the enigma of history, and it can drive you out of your mind if you let it.” 5 likes
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