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A Reader of Fictions: Review + Guest Post: Things I Can't Forget Blog Tour

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review + Guest Post: Things I Can't Forget Blog Tour

Things I Can't Forget
Hundred Oaks, Book 3

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Pages: 304
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Source: Publisher for blog tour
Purchase: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|The Book Depository

Description 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…

Prior Books in Series:
1: Catching Jordan (Review|Goodreads)
2: Stealing Parker (Review|Goodreads)

First Sentence: "Girls like me do not buy pregnancy tests."

I've been a fan of Miranda's since I read Catching Jordan, and I will definitely read anything that she writes. Still, I must admit that I entered on Things I Can't Forget with a certain amount of trepidation, having heard some talk of the focus on themes of religion and the personality of the main character. I feared I might not like this one much, but, actually, Things I Can't Forget has turned out to be my new favorite of her three books.

There is no doubt that Kate will rub a lot of people the wrong way. She is unforgiving, judgmental, prudish, hypocritical, and often downright rude. She wears her faith like an excuse to look at others and deem them lesser than she is. However, Kate never really bothered me, because I could completely see where she was coming from, especially since I had insight into her church, where her young mind and values were shaped, from Stealing Parker. I pity her for not knowing any better than to believe what she's only been told, for having been stuck with such manipulative, close-minded people during her youth. I feel for Kate, because it's so obvious that she's confused and that she'll be working through these issues.

Flawed as Kate is, annoying as she can be, I identify with her so much more than Jordan or Parker. Despite the rather glaring difference of religious beliefs, I was a lot like Kate in high school. I had a really strict sense of values, stricter I think than even I realized. I judged others based off of that and as a defense mechanism, because I felt so lonely and it's better to reject than be rejected. Like Kate, I put off a vibe of not wanting companionship when there was nothing that I wanted more. When I went to college, I had a lot of the same struggles with my own personality and moral code that she has working at this summer camp before her freshman year. Learning not to hold other people to the standards that work in your own life is one of the most important lessons that I think I learned as I came of age, and Kenneally handles it beautifully.

Kenneally also tackles the subject of sexual relations, and, more specifically, their relation to the Christian faith. Can a "good girl" have sex before marriage? Where's the line between and acceptable physical relationship and sin according to God? Kate's best friend, Emily, had an abortion and was kicked out of her parent's house. Kate helped her, but is now haunted by the thought of what she participated in, and said some very unsupportive things to Emily. Her judgment of Emily's sexual relationship stems from a lack of understanding, and she gains additional insight into just how complicated love and sex are when she begins a relationship with fellow camp counselor Matt. In all of this, Kenneally does not preach for or against sex, but about making careful decisions when ready, not feeling forced by society or a boyfriend.

In Kenneally's prior books, I admired her development of friendships, and she shines with that again, but this time it's a female friendship. Parker of Stealing Parker is a significant character in Things I Can't Forget. Because of Parker's somewhat racy past (according to Kate), the two do not start off well, but, over the course of the summer, they learn to understand one another and become real friends. Both Jordan and Parker struggled to find female friends, and I was so happy to see Parker find that. Their relationship really helps Kate grow and understand things from a viewpoint not her own, since Emily's mindset changed too suddenly for Kate to be able to adapt. By coming to understand and accept Parker's choices, Kate is able to reevaluate her relationship with Emily.

Surprisingly enough, given how touchy I am on the subject, the religion in Things I Can't Forget never irked me. Kate's beliefs are very much her own, and not preached in any way. Other characters put forth their own religious views that do not necessarily match Kate's. The tone is one of self-discovery, tolerance, and respect for the beliefs of others, messages I agree with wholeheartedly. The way Miranda turns the creation of arts and crafts into a metaphor for beliefs and the right way to live life is so subtle and perfect.

The one element I would have liked to see developed a bit more is the supporting cast. Kenneally creates such vibrant characters, and you learn a good deal about the secondary characters as well as the main. However, at the end, the whole plot line with the exacting Megan seemed somewhat unresolved. I really want to know what her motivations are, and if they're really based on some sort of dislike of other women, which is how she came off to me. On top of that, I'd really like to know more about what was going on with Brad. Obviously, I still loved the book, but having these characters a bit more fleshed out would have bumped my rating to the full five stars.

Things I Can't Forget will not be an easy novel for every reader, but it's a very powerful one. Miranda Kenneally has written yet another book with a cast that comes wholly alive to the reader. I don't think Kenneally can write a book I won't like. If you like contemporary fiction and haven't read any of her books, what are you waiting for?

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"That's the thing about art. You can't force it. You can't tell someone else how to do it. You can let them watch you, you can show them examples—like I just did for Parker, but you can't do it for them, or it's not their art.
     Art can't be shared that way."

Guest Post by Miranda Kenneally

Thank you for having me today to talk about my 10 favorite YA books! This list is in no particular order, as that would be waaaaaay too difficult for me to figure out.
  1. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen: Sarah Dessen is the queen of character development in YA. Along for the Ride is my favorite of her books, because it shows the power of how one summer can change everything.
  2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: I love this book not only because it swept me away to a fantastic world and Po (the hot guy) makes me have to *fans self* constantly, but because Katsa is the epitome of girl power!
  3. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I read this during a twelve-hour flight. I’m pretty sure I cried for most of that flight. This is another book where I adored the character development and enjoyed how much the author made me think.
  4. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn: One of the funniest books ever! It made me feel just like I was in New York at Christmas. If you haven’t read this yet, I’d suggest waiting until Christmastime to read it with cookies and hot cocoa.
  5. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: Not only is this book super smart, Frankie is totally badass. I loved watching her infiltrate and take over a boys-only secret society at her private school.
  6. Fire by Kristin Cashore: Like with GRACELING, I loved this world Cashore created, and I enjoyed watching a weak girl become strong and find her place in society.
  7. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: I loved getting to see the real America in this road trip book. The emotions and watching Amy forgive herself are great too.
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: This book blew my mind up. That is all.
  9. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: This bittersweet story explored how terrorism can affect a family. I cried for Tom, but the book had some really funny parts too.
  10. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen: Again, the author’s character development is fantastic. Remy isn’t a particularly likeable character at the beginning but she grows so much that I loved her by the end. And Dexter the love interest made me laugh like crazy. 

Miranda Kenneally is the author of CATCHING JORDAN, STEALING PARKER, THINGS I CAN'T FORGET (March 2013), and RACING SAVANNAH (December 2013). Miranda is the co-creator of Dear Teen Me. The Dear Teen Me Anthology was published on October 31, 2012. She enjoys reading and writing young adult literature, and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her husband. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Miranda is represented by Sara
Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency.

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Blogger Unknown said...

The first line did hook me. I love reading your review and I'm glad you mentioned how it will not be an easy read for some. While I think I will get annoyed with Kate, it sounds like a charming story.

Great review :)

Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

March 4, 2013 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Giselle said...

Oh wow, I would have hated you in high school! haha. But honestly I really felt bad for her more than anything. Sure she was a bitch but I never disliked her character in the book. I was also weary of the religion aspect but I felt it was a part of her more than a part of the story that often comes off as preachy. It was just who she was. Yay so happy you enjoyed it! I can't wait for Racing Savannah <3

March 4, 2013 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Try to be patient with Kate. She spend her formative years with seriously close-minded folks, and that rubs off. There's hope for her yet!

March 4, 2013 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Probably. Everyone else did. High school sucked. See, I didn't realize that about myself at all. Hindsight and all. I thought everyone else was mean, but I didn't realize how forbidding and scary I could be, that I was pushing away as much as they were staying away.

Yeah, definitely felt like Kate's thing, especially after that talk with her father.

Can I have Racing Savannah right now? Please?

March 4, 2013 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome review, Christina! I remember chatting w/ you about this book on GR a few months back. I'm glad you connected with it like I did.

I really like how you talked about your own personal experiences as you related to the character of Kate. I do the same thing when I am reading her books. I think that is one of the great things about all of Miranda's work, no matter who you are as a person, whether you are a Parker or a Kate, she is able to write characters and a story that resonate in some way with most everyone. I think that is the mark of a great contemporary book:)

I am really excited for Racing Savannah, too. I can't wait to see which returning characters show up in that one.

March 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yup, I remember that too. You read it so early!

Awww, thanks. I know everyone hates my teenage self now, but it's the truth. She writes such realistic characters, it's true. Even if I don't like them, I totally get them. That's skill right there.

YES. Super duper excited because Kenneally and HORSES. My inner child wants it now.

March 4, 2013 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I am reading this book next and as much as I am usually put off by religion and characters that can drive you crazy, I have heard nothing but great things about this book. I am very excited to read it. Great review!!

March 4, 2013 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Eeeeh! I hope it works for you like it did for me. Both of those things usually annoy me, but it worked.

March 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Estelle said...

GREAT GREAT point about the art metaphor. I feel like this is definitely the best out of Miranda's books because there was just SO much to say after I was done reading it. I did think it ended too soon, or there was something missing but even so, I didn't relate to Kate in the slightest and still felt totally invested in her story even if she drove me nuts.

March 4, 2013 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, she tackles many more issues than in the previous two, which also have depth to them, but not quite so much. I also just really love the ways he handles the tough things. She doesn't preach at all, just presents both sides and lets the readers think for themselves.

Glad you enjoyed the story even though you didn't like Kate at all.

March 4, 2013 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

This cover is so sweet! I think I'm getting soft in my old age...haha! I remember you telling me about these books, and finding it absolutely hilarious that you were reading a book called Catching Jordan while hanging out with Jordan; I definitely need to read these, too :)

Also, I just spelled "read" as "reed." Is it naptime?

Thirdly (because, clearly, I'm writing an essay), that is a super solid list of recommendations! I haven't read every book listed, but they're all in my "in the near future, you are mine" pile!

March 4, 2013 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have this feeling that I'll identify with Kate, too. I was really stuck in my own (narrow) world in high school, but as I got a little older (said from the oh-so-wise 27 year old me, haha) I started becoming really open-minded and accepting, of other people's opinions, view points, etc. My family really played heavily into how I was raised and now, despite the fact that I love them, we do NOT see eye to eye on much. So I will probably be able to see where Kate is coming from.

Wonderful review, Christina! I didn't realize Parker was a major character in this one. I really liked her in SP so I'm excited to see more of her. And I'm really glad the religious overtones didn't wig you out!

Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

March 4, 2013 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I had a really strict sense of values, stricter I think than even I realized. I judged others based off of that and as a defense mechanism, because I felt so lonely and it's better to reject than be rejected.

This sounds a lot like the high school version of myself; I had an opinion on EVERYTHING and I had a very hard time understanding how's someone opinion could be so different than mine when it came to core values. I look back now and laugh at my naiveté, but it took a lot of growing pains to get to a point where I could withhold judgment (mostly) and open my mind to see another side to things.

I haven't read anything by Kenneally yet, but now I'm hoping to soon!

March 4, 2013 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Yay! I am so happy to see that you liked this one so much. And I'm happy to see that you were able to identify with it so much, for me, those are the best reads. I was bothered by Kate in like the first 25-30% but then I just started feeling really bad for her and didn't let her get me because I understood her. I think Kenneally is definitely one of my favorite authors because she just writes such deep stories without them feeling like you are having some profound message shoved in your face, like you said, she just presents a story and lots of feelings. Fabulous review!

I really need to read The Jellicoe Road!

March 5, 2013 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You are getting soft. But it is super cute. So there you go. Oh man, I didn't really think about that too much, but I totally did do that.

Yup. All the ones on that list that I've read I've loved!

March 5, 2013 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yay! I'm not the only one that was a bitch without realizing it in high school. I really did have a moment of realization, a painful one, in college where I learned that so much of my social trouble was my own fault. Sure, people could have tried harder to get to know me, but I had no idea how forbidding I was.

I actually didn't like Parker all that much, but I liked her a lot more in this one. :)

March 5, 2013 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yup, that's it. My way just made so much logical sense to me that I didn't get why anyone would do OTHER things. And, yes, I do laugh at my old self. It's either that or cry at all the time I lost being a self-righteous jerk without even realizing it. Growing pains were an essential ingredient in not being that person anymore.

You definitely should.

March 5, 2013 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Exactly. Kenneally presents the issues and shows both sides but doesn't take a firm stance. It's like she's teaching people to think for themselves, to look past what they've always thought and consider other viewpoints. You might still feel the same, but you will do so from a more informed place. I would love to see more books like this.

Me too!

March 5, 2013 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

I...don't need to read this book. lol It's probably just make me angry. I get sick of people portraying Christians as narrow-minded, prudish, and judgmental. Some of them are, but a lot of them aren't, and it kinda pisses me off that there are never any nice Christians in books unless they're actually Christian books. Gah, just thinking about this book pisses me off.


Sorry. Repressed frustration. lol And maybe I'd like the book after all if I tried it! But I'm not sure I want to try it, as there are many others to enjoy.

March 5, 2013 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awww, well, I can see where that would be super annoying, but I just want to say that Miranda doesn't portray all Christians like that at all. The whole book takes place at church camp, and she's the only one that's prudish.

March 6, 2013 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

I have only read a few of the books on Miranda's list, but the ones I have I have loved so I really need to check out the others :)

March 12, 2013 at 1:32 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Same here. The others need to happen soon!

March 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM  

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