Things I Can't Forget
One summer introduces 18-year-old Kate Kelly to a shocking new set of beliefs. Miranda Keneally’s THINGS I CAN’T FORGET follows Kate’s journey as she explores new ideas that are very different from her own. Growing up mostly sheltered and protected, Kate has always been immersed in religion. She’s very active in her church, which has given her a reputation as a good girl in school. The summer before she’s supposed to start college, Kate and her best friend, Emily, sign up to be counselors at Cumberland Creek, a Christian camp. Before the summer even begins, Emily becomes pregnant. Torn between her devotion to her beliefs and her concern for her best friend, Kate helps Emily arrange an abortion. Eventually, Emily’s parents find out, kicking their daughter out of the house before the summer. Needing to make money for college, Emily quits her counseling job and moves to be nearer to Belmont University. Now Kate must take on being a camp counselor on her own.
"For teenagers struggling with parental expectations as well as newfound revelations, Kenneally sends a powerful message that no one else should be able to determine what you believe --- only that they must respect your beliefs as you respect theirs."
To Kate’s surprise, she reunites with Matt, a friend she used to know when she first attended Cumberland Creek. But he’s no longer the same scrawny boy she used to know. Now more confident, Matt still loves songwriting and literature --- only he’s no longer scrawny. They immediately reconnect, striking up a friendship with flirty undertones. At the camp, Kate meets and befriends Will and Parker, characters from Kenneally’s STEALING PARKER. Although Kate was never close to them in high school, she finds that once she gets to know them better, they have much in common. As her friendship with Matt deepens, she finds herself becoming more attracted to him. Her increasing attraction --- both emotion and physical --- leaves her questioning the only beliefs she has ever held. As she finds herself falling harder for Matt, she wonders if he, and their relationship, is worth turning her back on God.
Like her other books in the Hundred Oaks series, Kenneally crafts a meaningful relationship between two teenagers. Though very different people, they have a certain chemistry together. Kenneally
realistically depicts their relationship as an imperfect one, not without the trial and errors of any blossoming relationship. She’s unafraid of addressing issues like trust and temptation in relationships, as Kate and Matt must determine how far they want to take their relationship.
At the same time, Kenneally touches on issues of religion and personal beliefs. Even though Kate can be naïve and stubborn, she’s also deeply compassionate and determined, which allow her to become more understanding and open-minded at the end of the book. No matter what
Kate --- or any other character in the book---believes, Kenneally emphasizes that no belief is right or wrong; every individual has the right to determine his or her own opinions. For teenagers struggling with parental expectations as well as newfound revelations, Kenneally sends a powerful message that no one else should be able to determine what you believe --- only that they must respect your beliefs as you respect theirs. As Kate’s father says to her: “Your truth isn’t everybody else’s truth.”
Reviewed by Ashley L. on March 15, 2013