THINGS I CAN'T FORGET
By: Miranda Kenneally
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Series: Hundred Oaks (#3)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA Midwinter
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: 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…
Note: Mature themes, sexual situations, religious discussions.
I loved Miranda Kenneally's first book, Catching Jordan - I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story was about so much more than just football. She did the same in Stealing Parker. Because Things I Can't Forget isn't so focused on sports, everything else that Miranda does so well - friendships, romance, addressing aspects of teenage life other books shy away from - was allowed to take center stage and create a book that really resonated with me.
After a rough couple of months, Kate is looking forward to being a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, the same church camp she went to as a kid. Even though she wishes her best friend was still going to be a counselor with her, and despite the fact that her outdoor survival skills aren't necessarily strong, she's sure she can make it work. Legend has it that every year someone gets a sign from God at this camp, and this year Kate's hoping that it will be her. She never expected to see Matt again - Matt, the first boy she kissed back at this camp years ago. Once again Kate finds herself drawn to him...but how could Matt like someone who did what she did? Kate was expecting everyone at camp to be "good Christian people." But what she finds is that things aren't always black and white, and sometimes you just have to decide for yourself.
Love weighs a million pounds."
I have to admit that this book really bothered me at first, just like Stealing Parker did, not because of the religion aspect, but because of how it was portrayed. Kate seemed so narrow-minded, and even though I knew that was the point and certainly her right to believe that way, I found the first few chapters very frustrating. Fortunately, the book changed quickly, becoming more than a book about religion or about summer love at camp. Instead, through Kate, Miranda Kenneally tackled the tougher issues about how to decide who you want to be - not just who, but what kind of person, questioning long-held beliefs, and the self-discovery that can only come when you're in a different environment from that in which you were raised. Kate's time at camp reminded me not only of my own summers spent at church camp as a child but also the first time I was away from home and surrounded by people with vastly different backgrounds from myself, and how I changed as a result. I enjoyed watching her journey and was glad to see her find something that worked for her. Throughout the book there are flashbacks related to whatever Kate is sketching at the moment; I loved how these scenes were incorporated, as they helped show Kate's development as a character.
With one big exception, I really enjoyed the other characters that showed up at Cumberland Creek camp. Parker and Will both played a big role in the book, and it was fun to see them again. Jordan shows up as well, and I enjoyed her talk with Kate. But mostly, there is Matt, the incredibly sweet Matt, who was the first boy Kate ever kissed and who just might want to kiss her again. Matt's a couple of years older, and like Kate, he has things in his past that he'd rather not talk about. But the two always seem so right together. And there is one scene between them that is a definite "awwww" moment. My one character complaint is Megan. I kept hoping that there would be a bigger reason behind her behavior, or some kind of realization and apology, but there was nothing. Perhaps that goes to show that some people don't change. But for everyone else, it's safe to say that the summer at Cumberland Creek takes them to a good place.
Of Miranda Kenneally's three books, Things I Can't Forget is a definite favorite (though it may be more suited to older teens than younger due to some of the situations). You can read it without having read the other two, but really, they are all worth reading. I can't wait to see what she writes next!