Tally Landon had a plan - after graduation from high school, Holly (her twin sister), Marla (their best friend) and she would be leaving for New York to pursue their ballet dreams. All that changes when a tragic accident leaves Holly dead and Tally struggling to pick up the pieces of the shattered life she had known. Before heading to New York, Marla convinces Tally to attend a party where fate crosses her path with Lincoln Presley, a baseball star on the rise. The attraction and connection between the two is instant and strong and scares Tally, who fears that Linc is a distraction that she can't afford right now. But then again, Linc doesn't know who Tally really is, especially since she lied about her age and gave him her dead sister's name.
At 22, Lincoln Presley's baseball career is about to take off and the Major Leagues aren't far away. His sole focus in life has been baseball, especially after the death of his mother and brother. He is shocked to find the dark haired beauty he rescued on Valentine's Day, the day her sister died in the car crash, at his cousin's party. He never forgot the girl with the haunting green eyes and when he sees her again, he is determined to learn her name. After spending the night together, Tally and Lincoln know that something has changed - inexplicably, they have fallen for each other hard and fast. Nevertheless, their dreams of baseball and ballet, the dreams that have been their focus, their coping mechanism, pull them in two separate directions.
That one fateful night will have lasting consequences for both Tally and Lincoln. Lies will be told, by themselves and others. Lies so big that they will take them down a path that neither of them planned for. Fate will bring them together again and again, but with so many lies between them, can they ever find their way back to the truth and each other?
Wow! That's the only word that went through my head when I finished This Much is True. This book is an intense roller coaster from start to finish. I know I've said that before, but this is probably one of the most emotionally intense New Adult books that I have ever read. When I started the book I thought for sure I knew where it was going. It began like so many other books that I have read that I worried I wouldn't be able to finish it because it would become too predictable. How wrong I was! This book turned out to be anything but predictable and the emotional turmoil I experienced reading it left me whirling. Even as I sit down to write this review, my thoughts are so all over the place that I'm not even sure where to begin...
I guess I'll start with Tally and Lincoln. I had a hard time with Tally. Initially I found it difficult to connect with her. She just seemed so cold and jaded and clinical, determined to rebel against the world for no clear reason, and completely unforgiving. As the story continued however, I began to realize that she was so much more complex. The truth is she's broken and lost. She clings to ballet because it's her way of coping, of shutting out all the pain. She's contradictory - both a liar and coward, and yet strong and resilient. I rarely agreed with the decisions she made. It took me awhile to figure her out, to read between the lines, but once I did I realized that I judged her too harshly in the beginning. I didn't have as hard of a time with Lincoln. I liked him from the get-go, but even he has his flaws. He continually disappointed Tally (and me!!) throughout the book with his cowardice, his inability to listen to himself, and with his constant giving in to the the demands of others.
It is so easy to judge these characters harshly, and I found that at times I had to make myself step back and remember why they are the way that they are. Both suffered tremendous traumas and losses and threw themselves into pursuing their goals, because that's what happens when your world falls apart - you cling to the one thing that still makes sense. Your focus becomes singular and consuming, because without it you lose all sense of control. You shutout everything and everyone else to protect yourself from ever feeling that way again and do everything in your power to not jeopardize the one thing that makes sense. Life never turns out how we plan it. Like the saying goes - "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." It's hard to let go of the vision we have for how our life should turn out and embrace the journey instead, because the journey is often full of things, good and bad, that we never see coming and can never truly prepare for. When I thought about it this way, it made Tally and Lincoln incredibly human and vulnerable to me. It didn't make what they did or the choices they made any better, but it certainly made it easier to understand and connect with them. How easy it is to judge until you place yourself in the person's shoes.
I think what resonated the most with me were the ideas of lies and fate that are prominent throughout the book. A lie is a powerful thing. Once you tell a lie, you inevitably have to tell another and another and another. Lies are compounding things. They build on each other like a house of cards, ready to fall apart at the slightest touch. There are so many reasons to lie - to inflict pain, to protect, selfishness, cowardness, the list is endless. Lying makes it easier to deny the truth, the reality staring you in the face. They can become an escape, a blanket that you wrap yourself in, a false sense of security. It becomes easier to live the lie, but the guilt and pressure of maintaining a lie always catches up to you. It's why they say "the truth shall set you free."
Not that telling the truth doesn't come with it's own problems, but you can at least move on from the truth. You can't move on from a lie because the "what if's" will haunt you forever, as they haunted Tally. There is no peace in a lie, the peace comes from telling the truth. It was heartbreaking to watch Tally and Lincoln get lost in the lies and deceptions all around them. They lied to each other, they were lied to by others they trusted, and to what end? So much time was wasted, so much unnecessary pain inflicted. The constant untruthfulness left these characters in the pits of despair, never able to move on, and left me wondering if they would ever find a way out. Yes, a lie is a powerful thing.
Fate is another resounding theme throughout the book and by far the most intriguing. I believe in fate, that there is a reason for the way things happen or don't. It's a strange idea, "Fate." As human beings we pride ourselves on our free will, something that seemly clashes with the concept of "fate." If we exercise our free will, our ability to make choices for our lives, then how do you reconcile that with the idea of fate? That there is something bigger than ourselves creating a predetermined path for our lives? Dictionary.com defines fate as follows:
fate [feyt] Show IPA noun, verb, fat·ed, fat·ing.
- something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune; lot
- the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause of events; time
- that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny
- a prophetic declaration of what must be
- death, destruction, or ruin
I found the last definition to be the most interesting, especially when considering Tally and Linc's story. Are the two of them fated to be together? There is certainly plenty of death in their story, both literally and metaphorically. There is lots of destruction and certainly things get ruined (some repeatedly). I'm not sure that it means that they are fated to be together. While I am a proponent of fate, each of us still has a choice in our destiny. I would argue that their paths were fated to cross, that they were fated to be important in each others lives, but not necessarily fated to be together. As was illustrated throughout the book, there was a real possibility that Tally and Linc would not end up together. In the end it came down to the two of them choosing to face the truth, choosing to put something besides their dreams first, choosing to be together.
While fate always plays a role, free will cannot simply be pushed aside or ignored. I would certainly place them in the category of "star-crossed lovers," as so many things served as obstacles in their journey. Tally and Linc had so many lessons to learn and they certainly took the "long way round," but in the end I believe it made them stronger. They learned to appreciate the blessings they had - their friends, family, daughter, each other, baseball, dance - and embrace them in a way that might not have been possible had they not survived everything they went through.
Anyway...what I'm trying to say (in a rather verbose manner!) is that This Much is True is worth the read. It will make you cry, scream, swear, get angry and frustrated. It will devastate you, leave you feeling drained and hopeless. All I can say is...hang in there! This book is very much about the journey and if you can hang in there and make it to the end, I don't believe you will be disappointed.
**Note: I received a free copy of This Much is True in exchange for my honest review.**
**Note: I received a free copy of This Much is True in exchange for my honest review.**