Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Things I can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally

Summary (from Goodreads):
Companion to Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker.

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…
I have officially jumped on to the Miranda Kenneally bandwagon. Seriously, I didn’t think the writer could get any better after Stealing Parker, but she did. And this is the most religious book yet. For starters, this is no book about a girl athlete. Though, the main character does enjoying running more than I ever will (and did used to play soccer before she damaged her knee). This book is kind of more about religion than anything else, and I still found it be wonderful.
The main character was probably even harder for me to like than Parker initially was. This main character is a member of Parker’s “evil” church, except for her, the church is not, nor ever has been evil or wrong. She is such a devout believer in her church that she refuses to go to the counselor sleepovers at the beginning of each week of the over night camp she works in. She feels strongly that boys shouldn’t sleep in the same room as girls.
She views fraternities as cesspools of sin. She judges everyone (from how short certain shorts are to whether or not someone will most likely be going to hell for certain behavior). And it’s so hard to like a main character who has so much judgment. Though, I came to love her nearly in the beginning. Not because of what she thinks of people, or how her church brought her up to behave, but for what she does for a friend.
Kate was supposed to be a councilor with her best friend, Emily. But Emily, even though she went to the same church as Kate, and used to have many of the same ideals, changed. She slept with her boyfriend of 3 years, got pregnant, and then asked for Kate’s help in getting an abortion. And Kate makes it known throughout the whole book what she thinks about abortion. And what she thinks about pre-marital sex. But, the reason why I couldn’t help but like her any way, is the fact that she helped her friend do something she really didn’t believe in herself.
Yes, she and Emily aren’t even on speaking terms for practically the whole book. And yes, Kate hates herself for helping her friend –thinking about the baby who could have been. But, she still helped her.
While a huge component of the book is Kate falling in love, and Kate getting to the point where she’s thinking about sex, and feeling so guilty for all the things she told her best friend. Another huge component of the book is the battle between doing what you think is right and doing what might be right for someone else.
I think Kate would have reconciled with her friend a lot earlier if it were not for the fact that her friend was doubting her faith. Emily seemed to loose faith when her parents kicked her out of the house, forcing her to get multiple jobs to be able to go to college.  A lot of this has to do with the church that was so mean to Parker too.
And while the book takes place at an overnight camp, and there’s plenty of happy things like songs on guitars, dates to Chili’s, declarations of love, and new friendships (with Parker and Will!), there’s this undercurrent of guilt that Kate constantly places on herself. She blames herself for the abortion –thinking if she didn’t take Emily to the clinic, it wouldn’t have happened.
I loved watching Kate fall in love and begin to understand Emily more and more. I loved watching her learn to accept people’s differences. She and Parker seemed such unlikely friends, but they balanced each other out. Their friendship allowed for Kate to see herself differently. She grows to stand up for herself. She becomes confident in who she is and what she believes. But she also grows to get that not everyone sees things the same way as she does, and this doesn’t make them any less right.
I like that there was actually something in YA that dealt with abortion. There are so many YA books and movies and shows that deal with teen pregnancy, but I have never read or seen anything where the teen girl actually goes through with an abortion. I like that this book went to a place I haven’t seen anything else for teens go. And I liked that it was serious, with serious consequences, and that it affected a lot of people. I think what I liked the most though was the overall message that everyone is different and one person’s truth isn’t everyone else’s, and that is okay. And how can I not like a book for dealing with faith, when Kate can’t not like someone for seeing things exactly how sees them?
I also super loved the author’s acknowledgements page at the end, and I felt such a need to share this:
“With this story, I want to show you (teenagers) that your beliefs matter –no matter who you are or where you come from. Your opinions matter. You matter. To me, nothing was scarier than understanding that my truth wasn’t everyone else’s truth. It took a while, but I discovered that’s okay –it’s better if I do things I want to do and believe what I want to believe. I hope you find your truth.”
This so gets a 10/10 from me.

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