Genre:YA realistic contemporary
Published on September 1st, 2015
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
Jackie Lea Sommers lives and loves and writes in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the Os are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize. She dislikes OCD, horcruxes, and Minnesota winters. She likes book boyfriends, cranky teenagers, and Minnesota springs. Truest is her first novel.
It didn’t take long to confirm that Silas was absolutely crazy.
One morning he showed up at my house wearing an honest-to-goodness windbreaker suit straight out of the nineties: purple, mint green, and what is best described as neon salmon. I curbed a grin while Silas gathered our detailing supplies from my garage. “What?” he deadpanned. “What are you staring at?”
“Your windbreaker is just so …”
“Fetching?” he interjected. “Voguish? Swanky?”
“Hot,” I said, playing along. “The nineties neon just exudes sex appeal.”
“Well, I thought so myself.”
And after the sun was high in the sky and the pavement was heating up, he took off the windsuit, revealing shorts and a New Moon T-shirt beneath, Edward Cullen’s pale face dramatically printed across the front. “Vader’s competition,” he said, shrugged, and started vacuuming the floors of the Corolla left in our care.
He also talked about the strangest things: “Can you ever really prove anything? How?” or “I read about this composer who said his abstract music went ‘to the brink’—that beyond it lay complete chaos. What would that look like? Complete chaos?” or “You know how in Shakespeare Romeo says, ‘Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized’? He’s talking about his name, but baptism’s bigger than that; it has to be. It’s about identity, and wonder, and favor, you know?” or “A group of moles is called a labor; a group of toads is called a knot. Who comes up with this stuff? It’s a bouquet of pheasants, a murder of crows, a storytelling of ravens, a lamentation of swans. A lamentation of swans, West!”
One morning I was late coming downstairs, and Shea got to Silas first. The two of them sat drinking orange juice on the front steps and discussing Shea’s question of whether fish have boobs. “I think,” Silas said, sounding like a scholar, “they do not, since they’re not mammals. But mermaids do, since they’re half-fish, half-mammal.”
“Mermaids aren’t real though,” Shea said, the tiniest bit of hope in his voice that Silas would prove him wrong.
“Who told you that?” said Silas sternly.
“You think they’re real?” Shea asked.
“I can’t be sure,” Silas said, “but I might have seen one when I used to live in Florida. Probably best not to jump to any conclusions either way.”
Behind me, Libby giggled. Silas glanced at us over his shoulder through the screen door and grinned. “Libby,” he said, “what do you say? Mermaids, real or not?”
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions either way,” my shy sister said, then turned bright red.
“Smart girl,” said Silas.
That afternoon, Silas and I sat in the backseat of a dusty Saturn, trading off the handheld vacuum as we talked—or rather, shouted—over its noise. I ran the hand-vac over the back of the driver’s seat, while Silas said, “I used to think I was the only one with a crush on Emily Dickinson until a couple years ago.”
“You have a crush on Emily Dickinson?”
“Did you just ‘durr’ me? Is that like a ‘duh’?”
He nodded as I handed him the Dirt Devil. “But then I read this book that says it’s a rite of passage for any thinking American man. And then I read a poem called ‘Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes.’”
Just the title made me blush; I averted my eyes to focus on the vacuum’s trajectory.
Silas, unruffled, sighed unhappily.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, frowning, chancing a glance at him.
“I finally made it into the backseat with a girl,” Silas cracked, looking hard at the Dirt Devil. “This is not all I was hoping it would be.”
I slugged him in the arm, and his wry smile gave way to laughter.
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