This was my first experience with a Miranda Kenneally book and I have to say I'm very impressed. The books have been on my radar for a while now but it was one of those times where I wanted to give them a try instead of committing to buy. When my library purchased a copy of Things I Can't Forget, I couldn't wait to dive in.
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…
Kate is a bit obnoxious. She is exceedingly flawed as a main character, but I liked it. She is judgmental, self-righteous, and incredibly narrow minded, as is any one who has lived a sheltered life and only heard one point of view through all of it. She has grown up in a loving home and going to church. As a people pleaser, she is determined to do what makes her parents happy, what her pastor says is right, and what she thinks will please God. This is why her character works for me. She isn't trying to be a holier-than-thou mean girl. She simply has never been forced to see past her own nose so much before. What I enjoyed, was how realistic a portrayal this is. As someone who grew up in a Christian home, is still a Christian, and raising my children with Christian teachings, I can tell you that I see this scenario played out so many times, particularly with girls who have parents (or attend churches) who are more concerned with outward appearances than inward realities. I really enjoyed Kate's journey through this book as she confronts her guilt, the reality of how awful and legalistic she can be toward others, and how she can reconcile her faith with the world around around her. I love how she chooses to stay the course of her faith on some things, but to relax her rigid stance on others.
The plot of the book is all wrapped up in Kate's journey of discovery and romance with Matt. It is also about the relationship with her best friend and her relationship with God. I love Kenneally connected all of them so well and resolved all of them.
Basically I love how real this book is. I wish that there were more books out there like this that dealt with the struggles of Christian teens in such a real and honest way. Many of the kids who were Christian counselors at the camp are making up their own theology as they go, but that's a problem in the American evangelical church across the board. I think this book does an excellent job of reflecting the reality that is there. I want every teen I know to read this and find someone to discuss it with. I definitely want a copy to have around for Bit when she's old enough to confront some of these issues.
I will definitely be reading all the other books Kenneally has written now. I'm very interested in Parker's story based on what I got of it from this one. I'm only sorry I waited so long.