Things I Can’t Forget (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published March 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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…

I’ve read Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, and Racing Savannah, albeit a little out of series-order and a while ago, but I remember really enjoying the series for it’s fluffy yet realistic romance and sports elements. Things I Can’t Forget is my first peek back into the series after a good few years, and it’s definitely missing some of those elements I remember.

First up, a disclaimer: I’m not too good with religious books, and books that deal with heavily religious themes. Things I Can’t Forget lays it on thick, with the constant “will Brother John approve of this?” “am I living a good Christian life?” and, the golden “I hate it when Christians don’t act Christian-like” every paragraph or so. It made the first half a bit of a struggle to wade through, but I can appreciate how the author chooses to develop a character like that, and goes all out in doing so, instead of shying around Kate’s struggles, or ending it with a quick, fantastical, 180 position-reversal.

Kate’s relationships, both with Emily and Parker, were aspects I really, really loved, and the way the author took her time to explore all the ups, downs, and bends in both relationships made it feel all the more real and meaningful. (Also, Parker and Will were really fucking cute.) (Also, Jordan cameo!!!)

“King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” is a cute exchange; “King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” are really, really cute.

Also, back in high school, I worked at a local summer camp over my summer breaks, and covered both Chemistry (pet bottle rockets!!) and Art Director (clay chia pets and cork-board-pom-pom coasters!!!), and it was really fun to see bits and pieces of my experiences reflected here as well. Especially Brad’s thing about “I prefer working with the younger kids. Puberty scares me” and “I’d much rather deal with snakes and bears than kids going through puberty. Seems easier” – hard same. Middle and upper elementary kids are a terrifying, terrifying lot.

The ending, though, felt rushed and abrupt – all these dangling plot threads are tied up in just a small handful of pages, and it feels oddly hollow and lacking, like you had this huge cast of characters, each starkly different and unique from the other, and then at the end they were just kinda smushed together and patted on the head and then! It’s over!!

So all in all, Things I Can’t Forget was hardly set up to be a story I’d enjoy, but it’s a Miranda Kenneally book, and though it wasn’t my favorite Hundred Oaks book by any means, the supporting characters and the characters’ relationships managed to make up quite a bit.

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