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?