Rummanah Aasi
  Have you ever had an epiphany where you realized that not everyone around you shares your same beliefs? That absolutes aren't applicable in real life? Welcome to Kate's conundrum. She finally has a chance to have a real relationship and real friends, but in order to have all that, she must figure out what she believes. This review is based on the advanced readers copy provided by Sourcebooks via Netgalley.

Description: Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

Review: Miranda Kenneally's latest novel in the Hundred Oaks series, Things I Can't Forget, explores one teen's struggle for self-identity and faith. Kate is spending her summer working as a counselor at a church-run camp. She's still reeling from her decision to help her best friend Emily in a desperate situation that went against her beliefs and ruined their friendship. Kate hopes that in the mountains of Tennessee, she will get a sign that God forgives her. Summer camp brings new experiences and challenges for Kate. She is constantly, unfairly singled out by the camp director for doing something wrong and she doesn't fit in with the other counselors who, according to Kate's opinion, don't act very Christian.
  Kate is a very hard person to approach and like at first. She comes across as very judgmental. She only believes in absolutes, those dictated by her church, the same church that ostracized Parker in Stealing Parker.  Kate's sheltered world view is well-drawn and believable. As a reader you realize that her provincial outlook at life is constructed by only what she has been taught and blindly followed. The crux of the book is Kate's hesitant first steps on her spiritual journey to find out what she believes in and her relationship with her faith. Though religion plays a large part in this book, it is never heavy handed. There is a wide range of people who differ in their beliefs and their relationship with God, no true way is emphasized. The  more Kate begins to understand that faith is personal to each person, the more she comes out of her shell and becomes a real person. You get to witness her developing friendships with other counselors, particularly Parker who helps her sort out her confusion on what to make of her blossoming and incredibly sweet relationship with Matt, the boy who gave Kate her first kiss years ago at camp. Kate's character growth is a testament to Kenneally's skill as a writer. I loved watching Kate grow as a person, a girl who is more self confident in herself and willing to vocalize her needs.
  In addition to Kate, Matt is a very interesting love interest. He is incredibly charming, sweet and clearly crazy about Kate, but he's also a contradiction in Kate's eyes. He attends church but has no problem drinking beer with his frat brothers. The way Matt makes Kate feel contradicts everything she's learned in church where sex is concerned. The best thing in my opinion about Matt and really all of the love interests that Kenneally has created is that they accept their girlfriends for who they are. Matt accepts and acknowledges the boundaries that Kate sets, even though he may not understand and agree. He gives her space and time to sort things out.
  Though there are other important issues only touched upon in the book such as parental abuse and gay relationships, which I would have liked to see explored more, the book never loses its focus. Kenneally has given us an honest and realistic story about a teen's exploration of her own sexuality and faith. I applaud her in taking a big step in writing about sensitive topics in a sensitive and introspective manner. As always, I thoroughly enjoy her work and I can't wait to read her next book.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, underage drinking, and strong sexual content. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger, Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, The Patron Saint of Butterflies by
6 Responses
  1. This looks like a good one for my school library, especially since we already have the others in the series.

  2. I've not read any in this series, but after reading so many great reviews, I think I need to. This one, especially, sounds good to me. Great review. Thanks!

  3. Jenny Says:

    "Though religion plays a large part in this book, it is never heavy handed."

    I think that's what I like so much about her books Rummanah, she's able to weave religion into the story in a way that doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. Normally I steer way clear of anything that even looks like it might touch on the topic of religion, but I adore this series. I'm so glad to see it got a 4 from you, I'm starting it next week and can't wait!

  4. I really enjoyed this one as well and found myself really liking Kate after I got passed her church issues. I so agree about wanting more on the abusive parent relationship. I thought the Brad storyline was going to play a bigger part. I also wish there was more on the abortion angle. Still a great read.

  5. Although it's hard to like Kate initially, I'm glad that the author is able to make it so that you appreciate her character by the end. I also like that even though this one deals with religion, it's not preachy or anything. I still need to read Stealing Parker and this one.

  6. Lauren Says:

    I also found Kate really hard to like initially, but I warmed to her when I started to see where all these beliefs had come from, and how she was trying to be more open-minded. I also appreciate that the religious aspects were never heavy handed. Wonderful review, so glad you liked this! :-)

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