Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, October 02, 2012 14 comments
I recently finished a new novel by the lovely Leigh T. Moore, a YA romantic comedy called The Truth About Faking. 

This sparkling novel explores, among other things, the games we play in search of love. The protagonist Harley Andrews is certain her true love is Trent, the boy who doesn't really notice her (her inner monologues about it are so funny and true to life). She convinces the new boy in town, Jason,  to "fake date" her to help Trent "see the light." But the role playing leads to all sorts of strange complications Harley couldn't anticipate, including having feelings for the stand in.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that roles are a big problem in Shadow Falls. Harley's mother, for example,  defies expectations of what pastor's wife should be like, especially in conservative circles. She's into natural remedies and a massage therapist, which I thought was a brilliant choice on Moore's part,  because Christianity can often have a really fraught relationship with the body. Being fit and athletic is one thing, but massage is definitely on the fringe of dangerous territory. Yet Mrs. Andrews is incredibly professional about her work that is, after all, a way of relieving suffering--exactly the kind of thing a devout person should do. The church gossips who look for opportunities to make trouble for her look very petty in comparison.

But there's a price to paid for breaking stereotypes. And the biggest is the rift between mother and daughter when Harley herself begins questioning her mother's integrity. And that's where the core of the story got really interesting. The family plot and romantic plot  begin to echo each other in fascinating ways. Not only does Harley misjudge her mother and the student who works with her,  but she also jumps to all the wrong conclusions about the competing love interests, Trent and Jason. 

All these misperceptions begin to grown into mistrust, and then gossip, and wreak havoc in the small community. As things come to a head, Harley sees the how all these misperceptions play out, and how she's been on the wrong side. She's played her role as squeaky-clean pastor's daughter to a degree that she hasn't been loving to her family or living her faith well. Behind her "upright, good girl" mask, she has a compassionate heart and works hard to repair relationships.

Moore's dialogue is wonderfully authentic and witty, and her depiction of the intertwining lives of the ensemble of characters felt very real. I loved the nuanced view of the good and bad in Harley's church community also--a breath of fresh air when so many books for YA readers depict religious people in a thoroughly negative manner.

The fabulous voice and romantic tension kept me turning pages. The question of how we each contribute to problems in our community stuck with me long after I finished reading.

The Truth About Faking is available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

What have you been reading lately?

14 comments:

  1. This sounds like an excellent book about how one thing can grow into another and morph into something else. Currently I'm reading The Fairy Tales of Herman Hesse.

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    1. It's a cute contemporary story with lots bubbling under the surface. As a reader, that's what I look for--the thematic stuff.

      I haven't read much Hesse other than Sidhartha, required reading for a comparative religions class in college.

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  2. Stories that include the cultural layers along with relationships have so much more depth. Sounds like this one does. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I really liked that aspect of the story. Some may breeze past it, but the interconnectedness of the characters in a small town is interesting to see unfold.

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  3. That's a really interesting take - the whole misperceptions thing - makes what could otherwise be a straightforward plot richer. Thank you for the review.

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    1. Playing roles--or not fitting roles--is a theme this novel looks at from several angles. And it's romantic and funny too.

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  4. I love layered characters who learn about themselves along the way. I'll have to read this, thanks for the review

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    1. I think character transformation is so important -- a big piece of what makes a story stand the test of time.

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  5. Love Leigh! And this one's on my TBR list. :)

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    1. You can really feel her in the protagonist's voice--funny and sweet.

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  6. For a change a YA where the family is part of the story.
    Sounds like something I would enjoy.

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    1. Yeah, the parallel plotline with the family is less common these days, and done well here. I also really liked how Harley, the main character, begins seeing what she wants in relationships by observing her parents and reflecting on how their relationship works. I can't think of another YA novel that does that.

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  7. Oh, Laurel, I know you know this, but it's just AMAZING when someone reads your book and "gets" it--LOL! Thank you so much for the fantastic review. I'm so glad you liked my book. Best~ :o) <3

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    1. I loved how you wove the ideas of pretending and roles and misperceiving people through all the various story threads. TTAF is so much more than a light love story, I think.

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