A Long-Forgotten Truth
By Rachel Ballard
I picked up A Long-Forgotten Truth after finishing an epic fantasy knowing I needed something completely different. It turned out to be something so very different from the previous book I became worried it would throw me off. I shouldn’t have worried; this was an enjoyable book.
Eighteen year-old Gail Cavanaugh finds herself accidentally stumbling upon a family secret looking for money to pay the rent while her father is in rehab. When she confronts her father about her birth and her mother, his honesty is not what she needs. And in a way, it wasn’t something she was looking for either. Taking the old, beat up car, the only real family possession, she sets out on a journey to find her origins and understand a mother who has consciously stayed out of her life. Landing in the small town of Sylver, Washington thanks to car trouble, she gets caught up in the lives of three people with too many problems of their own to count.
For a first novel, this one is well put together and the story, while rather straight forward, feels much bigger than a simple road trip which is actually a large part of the story. Gail is a mixed up kid with problems that shouldn’t be hers — a mother who seems to have forgotten her existence, a father who can’t hold anything together without alcohol, grandparents who are tired from trying, and a ghost (a voice in her head she refers to as a ghost) of her own that won’t shut up making you wonder about Gail’s own sanity at times. She’s one of those kids that get lost in the system so fast everyone forgets they even existed at all. Gail is a sad character but you don’t feel sorry for her in the usual way because for some reason she’s too well put together for that. But there are times when you can see how easily it would be for her to curl up and try to forget how to breathe. Incapacitating depression doesn’t seem far off for anyone in her family. She knows things are bad but keeps going anyway and decides to even look for a reason or a possible solution to all the bad in her life. She doesn’t find the answer she’s looking for but you’re not bothered by that; rarely does that happen with the type of problems she faces.
I won’t say this is a feel good story and I wasn’t expecting it to be but the ending is satisfactory and there’s no let down even with characters that are as intensely flawed as these are. Sometimes the only resolution is to understand there isn’t one and I’m good when characters come to this conclusion. I was looking for something outside of my comfort zone and got it with A Long-Forgotten Truth and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing is strong and the story engrossing. A Long-Forgotten Truth was good a read.
As I said, this is the first book for the author but also the first story for the small press, Rozlyn Press. I’m interested to see the next move for both.