{Review} THINGS I CAN'T FORGET by Miranda Kenneally

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O P E N I N G   L I N E:

sketch #323 
what happened on april 6

GIRLS LIKE ME do not buy pregnancy tests. 

I drag my pencil down the paper, drawing tears rolling from her eyes.

Girls like me sing in the church choir. Every spring break, I go on mission trips to Honduras, where we renovate houses for the underprivileged. I do all my homework every night, and before I go to bed, I kiss Daddy's cheek and tell him I wish he'd go to the doctor about his blood pressure and start getting more exercise than walking Fritz and scooping his poop.

I've only kissed one boy my entire life. 

Emily called that day, crying. "Kate," she said between sobs. "You can't tell anyone. Not even your mom."

(pg. 6, US e-book edition)

While THINGS I CAN'T FORGET isn't as sporty as Miranda Kenneally's other books, it still has themes that qualifies it to be included in Girls in Sports Week.  For one thing, main character Kate was a soccer player (center midfield) before she tore her ACL.  She's been doing a lot of physical therapy. She may or may not be able to play again in the future. She still loves physical activies such as running, though.  Most of the setting for THINGS I CAN'T FORGET takes place at camp, and the nature of camp is athletic in and of itself,  I loved this fresh environment, which I don't see in YA novels, only MG ones.  You can still camp when you're older, especially if you get a fun summer job as a camp counselor!

Kate is an incredibly interesting main character.  At first, she's rather dislikable, mainly because she's so narrow-minded and judgmental. She changes a lot over the course of the summer and learns a lot of life lessons.  Kenneally deftly navigates touchy subjects such as religious beliefs without ever feeling preachy.  It's easy to see where Kate is coming from.  She grew up in a very religious church (The same one Parker from STEALING PARKER went), and when her best friend decides to have sex before marriage and winds up pregnant, she shakes up Kate's entire world.  Kate feels responsible for many of Emily's decisions, which weigh heavily on her conscious.  She learns to come to terms with so many things over the course of the novel.  Her job as a camp counselor at the same camp she used to attend helps her grow.  She slowly becomes friends with Parker (Yes, from STEALING PARKER! Parker and a certain other major character are back in a big way. You may want to read STEALING PARKER first if you haven't already done so, since there will be spoilers, though it isn't necessary to read it in order to enjoy THINGS I CAN'T FORGET.), despite their outward differences.  They wind up meshing together well, and it was intriguing to watch their camaraderie develop. Kate also reunites with Matt, the first boy to ever kiss her, and through her interactions with him, she comes to question so many of her own beliefs, as well as come to terms with the way she portrays herself.

THINGS I CAN'T FORGET features so many different views and beliefs, and is a quintessential tale of growing up.  It's Kenneally's deepest novel yet, with an emotional core that will suck readers in and keep them rooting for Kate despite their initial distaste for her.  Even secondary characters are fully fleshed out, and Kenneally introduces characters from previous novels in new, supporting ways that never feel contrived. I loved that Matt was a genuinely good guy, that he wasn't a heartbreaker or a bad boy, or abusive, or any of the things that are so prevalent in many of today's YA love interests. He was one of my favorite characters, and good for Kate.

Kenneally is quickly becoming one of contemporary YA's greatest voices.  Her themes resonate with readers, non-flinchingly look at the pains and joys of growing up, and have readers experience life lessons alongside characters in decidedly non-preachy ways. I predict that Kenneally will soon be a YA staple that other authors are compared to along greats such as Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti,  today's upcoming Judy Blume.

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I don't remember Kate and Matt riding bikes in THINGS I CAN'T FORGET, though my memory isn't one to be trusted, so they could have.  I sort of would have liked to see something campy, such as sitting around a fire at night roasting marshmallows or something. That could be just as whimsical and fun as bicycling together.  Then again, the colors for night are much darker, and all of Miranda Kenneally's books have fun, bright colors that go well together.

I do like the image itself, from the cute dress to the way they're holding hands. The composition and coloring is great.  I just wish there was more of a camp feel, since that truly defines the book for me!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received:  For Review


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… 

Read an excerpt here. 

Note: Mature themes, sexual situations, religious discussions.