It’s 1938 and America is in a depression. Layla Beck, spoiled daughter of powerful and wealthy Senator Beck, is being taught a lesson by her father – she must either marry the man her father has chosen or take a job with Roosevelt’s New Deal Federal Writers’ Project. Her allowance has been cut off and she can’t imagine the marriage, so she finds herself on the way to Macedonia, West Virginia to write the town’s history. Absolutely certain she will die of boredom surrounded by the town’s barely civilized inhabitants, she arrives at the house of the Romeyn family where she will be boarding.
Felix Romeyn travels for business so his two daughters, Wilhelmina (Willa) and Eudora (Bird) are being raised by their unmarried aunt, Josephine (Jottie). Twin aunts Minerva and Mae are married but stay at the house during the week. It is into this eclectic household that former D.C. urbanite, Layla is inserted.
Twelve-year-old Willa has decided that ferocity and devotion are the best virtues to attain and her life is dedicated to their pursuit. To that end she finds she must determine all the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, and why’s pertaining to her family and those who interact with them. Had she been trained by the CIA, she wouldn’t have made a better sleuth! The problem is she’s twelve and doesn’t always interpret what she sees or hears quite right…
Layla just wants to get her research done and written up so she can get out of town, but she starts finding herself connecting with various people and with the history of the town itself. Willa wants her out of town as well – she’s much too pretty and her divorced father, Felix, seems to be home more than usual. There are layers of secrets in the town and especially the Romeyn family’s relationship to it and both Layla and Willa are disturbing those layers and causing cracks to appear.
I really enjoyed The Truth According to Us. The characters are well developed and believable, even their eccentricities don’t feel contrived. Despite reading this in winter, I could feel the baking heat and humidity of that West Virginia summer. And that is the truth according to me.