After Unraveling Isobel, I read Unpredictable, which was awful. You can read my review on GoodReads, which is appropriately tagged “enraging fail.” The main character is painfully lacking in self-awareness, and she pulls all these awful stunts that are unnecessary at best and plain old gaslighting at worst.
But I’m a sucker for YA (Unpredictable was adult), and I like to read things by authors I already know are capable of writing things I like. So after Unpredictable, I read The Education of Hailey Kendrick, which, despite some casual slutshaming here and there, was a freaking joy. It has a love triangle that’s more like a quadrangle, and it makes it work. I love when books do that.
So next I picked up Getting Revenge On Lauren Wood, which I believe is the book Eileen Cook is best-known for writing, judging by how it always says “Author of Getting Revenge On Lauren Wood” under her name on all her other book covers. Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood is revenge fantasy, which I find impossibly eh, but it’s revenge fantasy moored in high school tropes, which I find impossibly comforting. I was pretty into it from the beginning, and then it went better places than I thought it would. It was just nice lighthearted entertainment.
I read all of these books in 2012. Yeah, it’s been a while — and it’s been a while since I read a fiction book at all. But I was scrolling through my ebook library on Saturday night, and feeling a bit giddy looking at all the covers since I finally uploaded all my ebooks to Google Play Books, and my eyes fell upon The Almost Truth.
I basically inhaled it.
Like Unraveling Isobel, The Almost Truth is a mystery set on an island a ferry away from Seattle. It has a side of romance as well, though I admit I didn’t care very much for it this time. The premise — okay, so this may be spoilery as far as the third chapter, but I would have picked this up even quicker if I’d known what the big con in the — atrocious, absolutely awful, what the hell — summary for the book on GoodReads was, so I’m going to tell you.
Sadie lives in a trailer park with her washed-up mom and sometimes her dad, who is a con artist and spends more time in jail than out. She has dreams of going to college in Berkeley, and has been saving money via petty cons and part-time work at the main hotel on the island to put down a deposit and secure her place there. That’s her plan, and she’s extremely excited about it until she opens a bank statement and finds out her mom’s spent all of that money on… other stuff.
So desperate and confused (another relatability point here, Sadie feeling the bottom drop out of her stomach due to money issues), she takes the ferry to Seattle to perch herself on a coffeehouse and think for a few hours (also extremely relatable), and on the ferry, she finds a flyer offering a reward for information about a missing girl — a rich couple’s daughter who disappeared on Sadie’s island and who’s been missing for fifteen years, and who, in a Photoshop rendering of what she’d look like now, looks exactly like Sadie.
People know Sadie around the island and at the hotel where the rich couple in question lost their daughter and are now holding a charity fundraiser, so she can’t pose as her — but there’s another angle she can play: find someone willing to pay to keep the missing girl missing.
It’s just kind of weird how many things she keeps finding out she shares with that missing girl.
Guess where this is going! Guess! Predictability is my jam, y’all, and I love when writers make it so that by the middle of the book you may actually be okay with either outcome, which Eileen Cook manages very well here.
Mystery aside, I found the book, as usual, very entertaining and engaging, and much like Unraveling Isobel, I wish it hadn’t cut off so soon. Eileen Cook has a habit of ending her books when all the really awesome stuff is about to happen, like the promise of it is enough to satisfy the readers, and — agh, I just want more.
My other issue with the book is the ridiculous amount of casual slutshaming, both internalized and outward-bound. It’s really sad, and apparently a fixture in Eileen Cook’s books, and I wish she had an editor who made her tone it down. It’s really just not necessary.
But back to the good: the book begins with Sadie struggling with money at the supermarket checkout, which I found extremely relatable, and while some things bugged me about, e.g., the way Chase was handled (I’ve never been a fan of love interests who are very charming and then turn out to be assholes without much warning at all to make sure you’re rooting for the other guy in the triangle), I was pleased with the messages here, especially the awareness of poverty and how easy it really is to make the right decisions and find yourself and travel and be educated and experienced if you can afford to randomly pop on a plane from the US to Venice and rent an apartment for a month. I mean, who can do that? I can barely rent a place in London, certainly can’t afford to fly back home, within the EU, any time soon, and my stay is supposed to be permanent.
But Sadie knows that, and it pisses her off. It’s good.
Sadie is also relatable for me in the way she wants to just pack up and leave and not have to deal with who she is and where she comes from. I’ve been there, which is why the fantasy of maybe having been someone else all along works wonders for me. My inner seventeen-year-old eats it up with a spoon, and there’s little I enjoy more than indulging that little pretentious teenager I used to be.
Besides, sometimes you read things like Sadie being afraid she’ll become one of those people who are always talking about the things they want to do and everyone around them tunes them out because they know she’s never going to do any of them, and it’s moments like that that make me think — fuck, I actually moved to London. I actually did this thing.
So yeah. It was a fun book. If you like simple teenage mysteries, The Almost Truth will be just your bag.
Links to purchase on Amazon:
(Disclosure: All Amazon links are affiliate links.)