Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
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… (courtesy of Goodreads)
Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series is some of the best contemporary romance being published today. I love how she's made each book a standalone novel featuring different characters and situations, but also tying in the characters from previous books.
On the surface, Kate is not a likable character. She sees the world in terms of black and white. And if you're not following the straight and narrow, she'll say something about it. Not because she's trying to be mean, but because she wants to help other people make the right choices. Her judgmental nature was irritating at times, but I found her a very relatable character. As much as we want to think of ourselves as open-minded, most people have strong judgmental tendencies. We just might not say it out loud or even think it as blatantly as Kate.
The harsh judgment Kate imposes on people who are "sinning" is understandable given the narrow world in which she's been raised. In Things I Can't Forget, Kate learns that the world is far more gray than she ever realized. Good Christian boys like Matt drink and join frats. "Bad girls" like Parker are lonely and need friends. What I liked best about Kate was that she was willing to open her mind when her beliefs are challenged. I also admired Kate's inner character. Even as she learned not to look at others too harshly, she tried to live by her own high standards, not just follow what everyone else does.
The romance between Matt and Kate is very cute. There's not as much banter as in Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker. The characters are open and joke around enough to keep things entertaining, but Kate is not the type of character that you'd expect to be full of snark. Neither is Matt. He's a sweet, laid-back guy but also introspective and quiet. An odd mixture of good ol' frat boy and emo lyricist. There's also more heat than I would have anticipated. The book is an interesting combination of young adult and new adult given that the characters range from about 18 to 20.
I admire Ms. Kenneally for her prominent portrayal of religion in Things I Can't Forget and Stealing Parker. It's a place where most authors fear to tread, which is sad given that religion plays a very important role in many teens' lives - whether that's a good or bad thing. I think the description of religious characters is very fair. You do see the dark side of conservative Christianity, where righteous judging looks more like ignorant hatred, but you also see good people who care about others and try to make the world a better place. Much better than the flat "all good" or "all bad" judgments that you see too often in literature.
Miranda Kenneally's books keep getting better. Things I Can't Forget features a strong character who finds a handsome guy like in most romances, but most importantly grows into a more open-minded, better person over the course of the book - which is more important than any boy could ever be. I can't wait to read the next Hundred Oaks book!