Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Page Count: 320
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
I love Hundred Oaks; I have enjoyed spending my summer living in this fabulous world that Miranda Kenneally has brought to life. I love the realistic characters, the southern small town setting, and the complex relationships. I'm now saddened that I have to wait until December for the next book.
Things I Can't Forget focuses on Kate Kelly, a deeply religious teen who is getting ready to head off to college. Kate's religion is something that dominates her life - this isn't a bad thing - but it does keep Kate from experiencing things and forming strong bonds with others from time to time. In the beginning of this novel, Kate feels that her religion casts things black and white. There is no place for grayness in Kate's life. Things start to change when Kate begins working as the art counselor at Cumberland Creek, a Christian summer camp. Kate expects every Christian to act and believe as she does, but she's shocked to learn that people choose to interact with their faith in different ways.
While there is a lot of religious issues in this novel and that may turn some readers away, I did enjoy it because they are realistic. I can remember being like Kate and thinking everyone thought the same way I did. It was quite a shock to learn that's not always the case. I wasn't always as open minded as I am now. It's difficult to take everything you've been taught as a kid and learn to incorporate that into your adult mindset.
In addition to Kate's beliefs, the novel also has a minor character that had an abortion. This whole segment of the book was emotional and raw. It was realistic and relevant. Kate and her friend serve as symbols of the abortion debate. Kate is strongly against it while the friend feels like it's her body and her choice. Each side of the issue is explained and at no point did I feel like Kenneally was trying to sway me to one side or the other. She is simply calling attention to a complex issue.
In spite of all the heavy stuff, there is a lot of humor, friendship, and romance in this one as well. I loved the friendship between Kate and Matt. It was also nice to see some old friends make appearances: Jordan, Sam, Parker, and Will. Parker and Will actually are in this one quite a bit since they work at the same summer camp with Kate.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book, but it was emotionally exhausting at times. It felt like a more serious story than its predecessors, but that could be due to the fact that Kate is telling the story. Kate's beliefs and dramas dictate where the narration goes. I will admit that I didn't like Kate very much at first. I saw her as judgmental and closed minded. It took me awhile to understand that wasn't her intent at all; she was just so rigid that she had trouble including people who didn't fit into her mold of what a Christian should be. She was worried for them and thought her comments would come across as concern not condescension.
I think this is extremely important novel - especially for teens who are struggling with creating their belief system or those getting ready to head off to college. Finding what you believe and forging your own personality are not easy tasks. I think we all could use some fictional characters struggling with the same issues to help us reflect on our own circumstances.
One Last Gripe: Why did Andrea have to be a jerk? As an Andrea, I can say that this is not my traditional role. :)
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked that it delved into some pretty serious issues, but still had the fun and romance I've come to expect from reading Kenneally's novels.
First Sentence: Girls like me do not buy pregnancy tests.
Favorite Character: Matt
Least Favorite Character: Megan
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…