The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: lies and secrecy, public school, falling in love
Format read: ARC from Simon & Schuster
Summary: Kelsey and Isaac don’t exactly click when they first meet. However, they’ve both got more in common than they realize. Kelsey was kicked out of her prep school and Isaac has been kicked out of more schools than he can count. They start an organization to connect their public school with Kelsey’s old prep school to help students realize they are all alike, no matter what school they go to.
The Thing About the Truth revolves around the tense, abrasive relationship between Kelsey and Isaac. Kelsey is, at heart, a really good girl. Isaac acts out to capture the attention of his self-centered politician dad. Isaac and Kelsey’s meeting is nothing short of awkward. They’re both new to the public school, but upon seeing Isaac, Kelsey makes quick judgments about the type of guy he is and writes him off. She wants to fly under the radar so she can focus on getting into an Ivy League school. She’s lost the trust and respect of her parents after what she did to get herself kicked out her prep school.
To prove she’s still got her act together, her solution is to start a new organization on campus. While she’s presenting her ideas, Isaac saunters into the room and throws out an idea the principal salivates over. Thus Kelsey and Isaac become the leaders and founders of the new group – spending more time together than either of them would have hoped for. The back and forth banter and constant arguments between these two are so good (so good so good). Clearly Kelsey is attracted to Isaac, but come on. She can’t be that girl and fall at the feet of this wealthy boy who has girls tripping over him. Isaac is drawn to her confidence and screw you attitude. The biggest dilemma is that while they’re pretty candid and honest with each other, Kelsey refrains from telling Isaac something pretty big.
The story navigates the past with chapters from both character’s perspectives, but sprinkled in are chapters that focus on flash-forwards, present day. There’s this sense of them falling in love and falling hard, but then we see that somewhere along the way, things got screwed up and Isaac and Kelsey are on non-speaking terms sitting in the superintendant’s office. While trying to figure out what happened between these two, I fought the urge to jump ahead to discover Kelsey’s big secret.
Oh, the secret.
Usually, characters in young adult books have “big secrets” that don’t really seem to shock me very much and things sometimes feel a little anticlimactic.
Not Kelsey’s secret.
The girl did something that made my jaw drop. It was no wonder her parents had her on a short leash and that she was trying to redeem herself. I didn’t exactly connect with Kelsey in the way that I wanted to because I didn’t fully understand her actions. What she did wasn’t something I would ever find myself doing (I hope). Her character was really great – she’s a wonderful girl who could obviously go places – but her decision-making skills were complete crap. I wanted to have a face-to-face conversation with Kelsey to snap her out of it.
Isaac was definitely more relatable for me; I’m not sure that I have connected as much with a male character as I did him. I understood why he acted out, why he was arrogant. He was so likable and kind to Kelsey (once they called a truce) and their kissing scenes definitely made my toes curl. I could see the growth in him and wanted to be a cheerleader for his team. When Kelsey’s secrets were revealed, my stomach was in knots on his behalf.
There were a few things I wish had been further explored. (slight spoilers ahead) I understood her parent’s reaction to what she did, but Kelsey mentioned daddy issues a few times. I didn’t really see that or understand why she felt the way she did. There also didn’t seem to be a lot of resolution with Kelsey’s (ex) best friend. There were lies and a semi-big misunderstanding and nothing ever seemed to be resolved.
Although there are a few things I would have hoped for, I definitely recommend you check out The Thing About the Truth. Kelsey and Isaac are sure to make you laugh out loud or wish you were smack dab in the middle of their steamy kissing scene.