Things I Can't Forget (Hundred Oaks, # 3)
By: Miranda Kenneally
Published: March 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from Library
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Goodreads description--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...
How in the world am I going to review this book without “preaching”? Heads up…I’m not. If you want to bow out now, feel free.
I’ll probably end up saying this in every review of this series, but I’ve read this series all out of whack. I read Breathe, Annie, Breathe (book 5), then Catching Jordan (book 1), Jesse’s Girl (book 6), Stealing Parker (book 2), and now Things I Can’t Forget. I really enjoyed all of the ones I read prior to Stealing Parker. That book just didn’t sit right with me for several reasons. One of the major issues I had with it was the religious aspects. Since 3 out of the 4 books I’d read in this series by this point didn’t have anything to do with religion, I wasn’t expecting this to be such a major aspect of Things I Can’t Forget. There’s nothing in the description to really hint at it either.
Kate goes to the same church that Parker went to in the beginning of Stealing Parker. She’s got strong beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong. She has faith in God, but she’s realizing more and more that not everyone shares her beliefs. And I struggled with Kate. On the one hand, I did see where she came off as being judgmental, but on the other hand, she’s perfectly within her right to pick and choose what kinds of people she wants to socialize with. If she doesn’t want to hang around people who drink, that’s fine. It’s her right to feel that way. It doesn’t mean she’s an awful, horrible person filled with hate in her heart towards the people who do drink. It just means she doesn’t want to hang around them.
Between Stealing Parker and Things I Can’t Forget, it’s obvious that Miranda Kenneally is familiar with and hasn’t had the best experiences with an American Christian church. And you know, I don’t like her portrayal. I can’t say everything’s inaccurate, but I can’t say she’s right on most of it either. Granted experiences differ from congregation to congregation just as much as people vary within each congregation. But I said it with my review of Stealing Parker and I’ll say it again: I don’t buy into this “do whatever makes you feel good” message. Worship the way you want. Believe what you want to believe. God—the Creator—has told us what He wants us to believe and He’s told us how He wants to be worshipped. The book of James also tells us “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when He is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…”(James 1:13-14 NKJV) It’s our own desires that tempt us to sin, so saying “do whatever makes you feel good” is a very slippery slope. Some people get some intense feel good feelings from chopping other people into tiny pieces…that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it something that God would be okay with.
In both of these books similar statements are made about God. In Things I Can’t Forget Miranda Kenneally says “Why would God give me Matt, someone who makes me feel so good, only to take him away? Would God really do something that selfish and mean to me?” Why would God send His Son to earth to empty Himself of being in the form of God and take on human flesh (the Creator becoming the created) in order to live a perfect life and die on a cross, taking on the sins of His people? His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. But if you’re expecting God to be a supernatural genie answering your every whim and every demand then you’re in for a rude awakening. You try to make the story about you and not about God. Aside from that sin enters into the picture and distorts everything that God made beautiful. Plus free will has a role to play as well. I’m sorry guys…but the more I re-read that sentence “would God really do something that selfish and mean to me?” I can barely contain the eye roll, sarcasm, and downright laughter that wants to come out of my mouth. I’m pretty sure God wasn’t the one inching His hands down your pants or the one letting someone else do such a thing to you….that would be you sweetheart. And how God could be so selfish and mean? BAHAHAHAHA!!!! He sent His SON to die for you! How selfish! How mean! His Son who was spit upon, mocked, and killed without cause….for you. Yep. Selfish and mean are definitely adjectives I’d attribute to him! *rolls eyes*
What Kate went through with Emily…well I actually have to give kudos to Miranda Kenneally for tackling a topic that heavy. At the same time, I don’t think I would have picked up the book had I known that was the secret Kate felt guilty about. It’s just one of those things that I don’t think I would have sought out to read about. I also feel like the big fix or solution to this part of the conflict was just a little too easy. Something like that is a burden that weighs on the soul—how can it not?
Slight annoyances…at one point Matt says “See you Sunday” and then about 3 or 4 paragraphs down Kate says “The real adventure is waiting for Monday, when I’ll see him again.” And then as someone who has a knee injury and hasn’t been running or jogging in a really long time, I highly doubt that she could just jump in and jog for an hour straight—four miles. Especially when she later says that Matt helps her work up to being able to jog for four miles again. I just struggle with inconsistencies like this.
In the end, I just felt more uncomfortable with Things I Can’t Forget than anything else. I know others have loved this book. But because of my beliefs, this just wasn’t the right book for me. My rating system is subjective and based upon how I (and I alone) feel about a book. That being said, Things I Can’t Forget gets 2.5 Stars from me. Have you read Things I Can’t Forget? What did you think? Let me know!