Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.
Can I just say that this book is amazing just simply amazing. I love a story that tugs at the heart and makes you fall in love with the characters right from the beginning.
Silas is the quiet brooding type that is smart and caring underneath all that tough exterior. He loves his sister and his family and when they relocate to his mother's hometown Silas just goes with the flow. He already knows that moving to a small town is going to be different and people are going to want to be all up in his and his families business but he is ready for that. What he wasn't ready for was Westlin "West" Beck.
Westlin "West" Beck is the preacher's daughter. She is supposed to be whole and good and full of God, But West is human and a teenage girl and when she meets Silas her world is turned upside down. She starts to think and do things she would not normally do. She finds herself looking at things differently and sharing her new views with others.
Then something happens and both Silas and West will have to step back and take a look at life and where it is going and where they are going in life.
First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
June Hymn by The Decemberists
A Young Summer’s Youth by Joel Alme
Sand in Your Shoes by This Providence
Anchor of My Soul by Josh Garrels
Thunder by Boys Like Girls
Summer Love by The Workday Release
Always Summer by Yellowcard
We’re at the Top of the World by The Juliana Theory
Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional
Beach by Mew
Everything Will Be Okay by Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery
Mexico by Vocal Few
Kids in Love by Mayday Parade
Stay Young, Go Dancing by Death Cab for Cutie
Janie by Further Seems Forever
Silas the Magic Car by Mew
I’ll Find a Way by Rachael Yamagata
Stay by Mayday Parade
Try Again by Keane
RETURN TO ALASKA (from Silas’s POV)
by Jackie Lea Sommers
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit, and the Muse—
I spent the whole flight memorizing an Emerson poem and thinking of her.
And yes, it was unfair that the “her” in question was not Beth, my girlfriend, but instead my friend and business partner back home in Green Lake.
Wait. How did Green Lake become home?
It was her eyes, I think– they apprehended me. After that, my allegiances quickly found a new rallying point.
“You sure you only want to stay till Wednesday?” my dad asks from the airplane seat beside me. He laughs a little. “At one point, I thought you’d actually try to strike a deal tostay.”
I give him a weak smile. Then, in my head, I repeat the mantra I’d adopted since yesterday: There and back, and she never has to know.
A short layover, another flight, an ugly breakup, and then return.
To the girl I loved who was dating someone else.
‘Tis a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope
Was I crazy to do this: break up with my perfectly above-average girlfriend in the long shot that the girl I loved would do the same to her perfectly above-average boyfriend? No, not crazy. It’s unfair to everyone—and especially Beth—to act like nothing has changed since I moved to Minnesota.
More specifically, since I met her: Westlin Beck, smart, beautiful, hilarious, home. It wasn’t love at first sight—I don’t believe in that—but it was something damn close to it.Knowing at first sight.
This trip to end things with Beth was inevitable since West showed up on my doorstop. I wanted to chicken out and end things over the phone, but then I had this realization that if I wussed out on Beth, I’d be ashamed to tell West. It’s time to be a man.
I think Beth already knows. How could she not know? Still, I’m not looking forward to what’s ahead. How had I described this trip to West? Unceremonious. Ignoble. Risky. Necessary.
They’re just as true now as our plane lands in Anchorage as they were the other night. The other night: me and her in the lifeguard stand, her eyes telling me one clear story: I know you.
The voice on the overhead announces the local time and says we can use electronic devices, so I power on my phone.
A text. From her.
SILAS HART, YOU ARE A FUCKING BASTARD.
My heart freefalls into my stomach. My pulse rockets into overdrive. Everywhere—every part of me—breaks into a cold sweat. I blink rapidly against my body’s system failure, try to breathe.
“Everything okay?” Dad asks from beside me.
“Yeah, fine,” I lie, and shove my phone in my pocket. What have I done now? My stomach churns in an ugly, wet sort of way, and my heart is going harder than it does in a race, but the debarking line makes it impossible to get to the bathroom. It takes one million years to reach the front of the plane, and once we’re off, Dad wants to find our next gate, which is—of course—in the other terminal.
Thankfully, it’s a small airport, so I grin and bear it—trying to ignore the chilly sweat trickling down my neck and back—till we’re settled at the next gate, the whole time my head going crazy. For one wild second, I think maybe I won’t have to break up with Beth after all. But that’s ridiculous. I know so much more now.
When you find the pole star, you let everything else fade. Or as my friend Ralph Waldo Emerson so perfectly put it:
When half-gods go
The gods arrive.
“I’m going to go find some coffee,” I tell Dad, hoping my voice doesn’t sound strange and distant and terrified to him the way it does to me. “Want some?”
“Yes. Or if you find hypodermic needles where I can just inject caffeine into myself, that’d be great too.”
I practically run to the empty gate I’d seen nearby. I shake as I dial her number.
Pick up. Pick up, pick up, pick up!
“Hi. I hate you.” That voice.
“What the hell, West?” I ask.
“Are you in Fairbanks?”
“Layover in Anchorage. West, what’s wrong? Are you with your cousins?”
“What the hell do you think is wrong, you bastard?! You went back to Alaska and didn’t even tell me? How am I supposed to do all our detailing alone? I thought we were supposed to be—to be good to each other. And I’m just so—mad at you.”
Deep relief spreads all over my body. She missed me! My legs are weak, and I sit down on the airport floor, back against a wall.
“West,” I say.
“Who does that? Who just packs up and leaves without saying goodbye? Assholes, that’s who.”
An asshole who matters to you.
“West,” I say, amused. “I’ll be back in three days.”
“In time for the Fourth of July. I get to meet Trudy, remember?”
“But—but your mom said you went back to Alaska with your dad.”
“I did,” I say, leaning my head back against the wall. “We already had the tickets, and you were supposed to be out of town this week, so I went along.” She misses me! Already!It’s like a marquee panning across my brain over and over and over.
“You’ll be back in three days?”
“You weren’t even supposed to notice I was gone. Why aren’t you in the Cities?”
“Mae got sick. Why didn’t you just tell me? Last night at the beach?”
I sigh. Is this the right time to tell her about Beth? No, not here, not like this—over the phone and with her in tears. “It’s complicated. I’ll try to explain when I get back.”
“In three days.”
I swear, I want to reach through the phone and take her hand. “In three days,” I repeat.
Do I or don’t I? I decide to take the gamble: “Missing me already, huh?” I tease.
“No,” she says, but her voice gives her away.
“You’re a shitty liar, Westlin Beck,” I say quietly.
She doesn’t say anything, and I know I’m right.
“Hey, want to know something?”
Shit, am I really going to say this? “I already miss you too.”
“Just hurry back.” I can picture her trying not to smile.
“To the girl who hates me?”
“That would be me.”
I get coffee for my dad and myself—decaf for me. Nothing could have woken me up like the hurt, relief, and—did I imagine it?—hunger in her voice.
This girl, she lights me on fire. And I think I can do that for her too, in a way Elliot Thomas never can. I’ve known this from the moment I first saw those brown eyes that made me feel held. I’ve just been waiting for her to catch up.
I can wait a little longer. She’s just given me the armor, the weapons, and the guts for what I have to do here. And when I get back, there will be fireworks.
“Here you go,” I say, handing Dad his coffee.
“Thanks. They’re about to start boarding. You ready?”
SILAS & WEST MEET (from Silas’s POV)
by Jackie Lea Sommers
The decision to leave Alaska was born of desperation.
I hate being an asshole, but I’m pissed. Everything was perfect—is perfect—back in Fairbanks. I have cool friends and a wicked-smart girlfriend who likes to show off her legs. I’m supposed to be the cross country captain in the fall. My buddy Josh and I were in the middle of making plans for a badass loft that his dad would help us build for our future college dorm.
When we’d left Florida, my parents had promised that we’d at least stay long enough for me and Laurel to graduate from West Valley. But, of course, they hadn’t factored in—well, anything: the unlikely event of my sister losing her grip on reality or the long purple winters that would make it all worse.
So, off to Mom’s hometown to help Laurel.
Anything for Laurel.
I’ve been spending most days reading on the rooftop patio at our new house, which—I get it: a rooftop patio is pretty cool. But there is literally nothing to do: Green Lake has one restaurant, a bowling alley painted a hideous shade of canary yellow, a public beach, and four churches. I’d be willing to wander into Canary Lanes just for a break in the monotony, but I’d have no one to bowl with.
I think that’s the worst part: not knowing anyone. My Papa and Oma live just outside town, and it’s great to be around them again, but I need people my age. Laurel’s being a shit, and I don’t know where or how to meet any other teenagers outside of school, and hell if I’m going to spend all summer inside listening to Laurel bitch and moan about reality.
This morning, my parents and I went to Papa and Oma’s church, though due to Laurel’s tantrum, we arrived late and without her. From the back, I’d surveyed the congregation and found it lacking. Gray-haired women mostly, very few teens. One girl who looked around my age sitting near the front. All I could see was a ponytail.
Still, someone my age! A way in. So, you come here often? I picture myself asking as I down one of those little communion shot glasses. I looked for her after the service, but she seemed to have disappeared.
Oma Lil introduced Mom and Dad to the pastor, and they’d told him about Laurel, which—seriously?? Can we please keep it a secret for like ten freakin’ minutes??—and he’d promised to bring over communion for her later that day.
Now I’m sitting on the roof, bored out of my mind, waiting for our company. My one saving grace is that the university wants Dad to come back to Alaska yet this summer to teach a class. If he goes, I’m going with. There is no way I’ll be staying behind with Mom to watch Laurel disintegrate. Josh emailed me about some stuff he had planned, and Beth—damn, those legs!—insinuated she had plans for us too. Plans, as in, plans. And all I want is to get the hell out of Minnesota and back to Alaska where I belong.
Even though Dad’s summer class would only be six—maybe eight—weeks long, I knew that once it was just us guys back in Fairbanks, I’d be able to convince him that I should stay there for senior year. Josh had already been talking to his parents about me living with them, and they’d been thrilled, being somewhat smitten with me. Sure, I’ll feel bad leaving Laurel to rot here, but … I don’t want to think about that.
A car. Coming over the bridge. It must be Pastor-What’s-His-Name. And … there’s someone else in the passenger’s seat, though I can’t really see much from here. But when they pull up into our driveway and climb out of the car, I recognize the ponytail.
I dash indoors, down the stairs to the second floor, and down the last flight as the doorbell rings.
“Got it!” I shout and race to the door, all smiles, ready to greet the pastor and the ponytail, eager for ten minutes of relief from the monotony of my new life and—better yet—someone my age to get me through the next few weeks before I go home.
I open the door.
And I know I’m not going back to Alaska.
I can feel my face fall.
She’s beautiful. Long hair. Small, sweet pink lips that beg to be kissed. Eyes that are clever and curious and deep. But it’s not even that. She makes me feel found. Kept.
She hasn’t said a word, and I feel as if she’s exposed all the parts in me that are unsafe and incidental. I want to be on purpose with this girl.
My plans are sliding like wet paint down the walls around me, emptying into a drain at my feet, and I’m not ready for it all to fall apart so quickly.
“Hey, there. You must be Silas,” her dad says, shaking my hand. “Pastor Kerry Beck. This is my daughter West.”
West. Where the sun sets … on my senior year dreams.
“Good to meet you, sir,” I say, gathering myself up enough to smile but not enough to remember that I should also be greeting his daughter. “Come on in. Mom! Dad!”
She walks past me, and—you’ve got to be kidding me—she smells like molasses, and I hate my life because this girl is ruining everything, and there’s something about her, and I just want to run away. Seriously. I want to get on a plane and get the hell out of here before she changes my life.
She is going to change my life.
“Sunroom is this way,” I say, recovering my voice and leading her and her dad down the inside hall, past the kitchen and into our sunroom conservatory.
Laurel’s in there, looking like some zen yogi, and I want to roll my eyes because of the creepy-ass vibe she’s putting off like she sometimes does, all intimidation and ethereal mystic weirdo shit.
“Hi, Pastor Beck,” Dad says, finally arriving. “This here is—”
“Laurel,” says my sister, and she holds out her hand to shake Pastor Beck’s, and she doesn’t get up, and I want to grab her shoulders and shake her for being so rude. She looks at the girl now and says simply, “Hi.”
“West,” the girl mutters. “Nice to meet you.”
“West, good to meet you,” Mom says, then notices my (somewhat) inappropriate shirt, rolls her eyes, and asks, “You couldn’t have changed?” I know she doesn’t care, is only worried about what the pastor will think, so I just laugh and give her a kiss. Then she drops the bomb: “Silas, go show West around.”
If I can slip away now, I might be able to take my plans—and self-respect—with me.
“We can just stay …” I start, but mom says, “Shoo.”
I’m ruined. I already know it. I look over at her and indicate that she can follow me, and then I haul ass.
On the stairs, she speaks. “So, how long have you guys been in Green Lake?” Her voice cracks my heart like a coconut.
Here we go, I think. Goodbye, Alaska. “Couple weeks? We moved from Fairbanks.”
“Alaska?” she asks. She seems surprised. I get the feeling that Alaska is as exotic as Timbuktu to the people of Green Lake. “Why’d you move to Minnesota?”
“Mom grew up here. This is my room.”
I don’t know why I even pointed it out. It doesn’t matter. I’d rather show her the roof. Besides, my room is a mess, and I’m actually embarrassed as she peers inside. “You wanna see the roof?” I ask, trying to get her away from my door.
Instead, she walks right into my mess. Right up to my bookcase. Please, God, don’t let her be as smart as she looks. Please let her comment on my comic books or my TV show or my damn pizza box or even the boxers on the floor—but not the books.
Instead, she chooses one, pulls it off the shelf, looks it over.
Her face opens up then, just for a second—not while she’s looking at me, but while she’s looking at the book, and it’s the sweetest, most vulnerable thing I’ve ever seen. It makes me want to protect her from evil. It makes me want to bawl like a maniac. It makes me want to run a 10k, just so that I can freakin’ think straight again.
“Be right back,” I say under my breath and then leave the room so that I can breatheagain. In the bathroom down the hall, I turn on the cold water and lean over the sink. I splash it onto my face, stare at my flushed reflection in the mirror, whisper, Get your shit together, then hastily dry my face on my shirt collar. I want to hide out here in the bathroom, but she’s alone in my bedroom, and I’m acting like a crazy person and an asshole. Get your shit together, I repeat. She’s just a girl. You don’t even know her. Man up. She doesn’t make your decisions—you do.
But, back in my room, I’m not sure that’s strictly true anymore.
“Do you listen to August Arms?” she asks.
“Is that a band?” Avoid eye contact.
“No, it’s a radio show I like,” she says, putting my book back. Dammit, it was Collier. She even has good taste. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I lie, sitting down on my bed. “You read much?”
No. NO. Why did I ask that question? I don’t want to know the answer. I want to pull the words out of the space between us and put them back behind my teeth.
But she doesn’t answer me, only glances around my room, and so I make a stupid joke about the Darth Vader cutout leaning against my wall. She doesn’t laugh.
I chance a glance at her; she’s frowning at me like I’m the bad guy.
Off to a great start. “Poetry’s my thing, I guess,” I say.
“You read poetry?”
I can tell she’s annoyed with me. I don’t want her to be. Or maybe I do. Or maybe … I don’t know.
“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” It was a stupid thing for me to say, and I know it. “Percy Shelley wrote that,” I add. I can’t believe I’m trying to show off for this girl that is ruining all my plans.
But she’s a better plan. The truth of that suddenly seems so obvious—like elementary math or like breathing.
Oh well, what the hell? I think, and flash a grin at her.
She looks away.
She sits down next to me on my bed, and I about pee my pants. The world’s most beautiful girl is on my bed right now, and I look like an asshole and am suddenly terrified I’m going to say the wrong thing and make her leave and never speak to me again. I’ll spend my whole summer pining after her ponytail and she’ll be trying to avoid me.
“So what’s with Laurel?” she asks. “Can she walk?”
I frown. I will not let Laurel screw this up. “Yes. She’s fine.”
“Oh,” she said. “Sorry. We just usually bring communion to—sorry.”
“She’s fine,” I insist. Is this what I’m going to be up against this summer? Trying to keep my sister a secret in a population this low? “Small towns,” I spit out.
“I should go,” she says, starting to get up.
Shit. “No, don’t,” I say and—I don’t know what I’m thinking—push her shoulder down. She wrests it savagely from beneath my hand, and I apologize.
Be nice, I remind myself. Charming. You know how. “Laurel—she’s my twin sister. It was really good of your dad—and you—to bring over communion. Body and the Blood. Good conversation.”
“Conversation?” she asks. “With my dad?”
“How old are you?” she asks.
And then she stares at me. It feels like she has X-ray vision.
“What?” I say, trying to tease her. I knock my knee against hers. Yeah, girls like that kind of stuff.
“Nothing,” she says, clearly annoyed as she jumps up to get away from me. Dammit.
“Wink!” her dad shouts from downstairs. “Ready to go?”
“Coming!” She can’t wait to get out of my room, I can tell. I feel guilty. I should just let her go.
But I can’t.
After a second, I follow her out.
“Silas, good to meet you today. We’ll see you at church next week?” Pastor Beck asks.
Charm her dad. “Yes, sir,” I promise, “or I’ll have Oma Lil to answer to.”
“Nobody wants that! Glad you got to meet Westlin. Maybe she can show you what’s fun in Green Lake.”
“There’s nothing fun in Green Lake,” she says. Showing me around town is obviously the last thing she wants to do.
I need to give her an out.
“Actually, I need to find a decent summer job,” I say. “No fun for me.”
“West here makes pretty good money detailing cars in the summer, and she’s short a business partner and needing some help,” says Pastor Beck.
Ohhhhhh boy. There it is. When I answered the door, I had no idea that I would suddenly be interested in staying in Green Lake and need to make a decision a half hour later.
Alaska. Josh. Beth. Cross country.
All our parents are looking at us. Three sets of eyes, and I feel like I’m sweating to death.
“You interested?” West asks.
She asked. She asked! Does that mean she wants me to help?
Am I going to say yes anyway?
“Sure,” I say, trying to sound non-committal.
“Okay, well, I have a detailing tomorrow morning at nine. We’re in the parsonage by the community church. You should wear junky clothes.”
I point to my inappropriate t-shirt. “I’ll be there at five to.”
And just like that, my new plan begins.
About The Author:
Jackie Lea Sommers is a young adult author who lives in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Her first novel Truest will be published by HarperCollins in September 2015.
Jackie grew up on a hobby farm but has made the Twin Cities her home for nearly 15 years after moving there to study creative writing at the University of Northwestern. She hates OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She loves Jesus, Augustus Waters, and Minnesota springs.
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