Series: Hundred Oaks #3
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1st, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Companion to Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker.
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 suppose that with every series, it’s natural to encounter a book you like less than the others. It pains me to say that that is Things I Can’t Forget for me. Though I won’t say this book was bad – I still swooned and enjoyed the romance – there were multiple factors that kept me from really connecting with it.
Things I Can’t Forget is less sports-focused than the other books in Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series. Kate used to be a soccer player, but a knee injury put a stop to that. Instead, the story focuses on a summer church camp, where Kate and a bunch of other characters are counselors. Kate is there as the art director and soon starts a bit of a flirtatious romance with Matt.
What keeps me from really connecting to this book is the main character. From the first page, I was shocked by Kate. She’s uber religious, super sheltered, and incredibly judgmental. I had no warning about this going in, so it was unexpected. Kate’s in a phase of desperately clinging to her religion after she helped her (ex-)best friend get an abortion. But she goes around being outraged by everything. Like, she’s at camp and she can’t handle the idea of the male and female counselors (all 18 and up) sharing one cabin. It’s not like it’s a fucking ORGY, Kate, for real, get off it. It was super annoying. The thing about Kenneally’s books, however, is that she excels at deep characterizations. Even though I couldn’t relate to Kate AT ALL, I could understand her as a character. I could see why she’d be the way she is. She did come to life, and she did grow significantly by the end of the book. I just didn’t like her too much.
But the other thing that bothers me is that there’s a way heavy focus on religion in this book. To an extent, Stealing Parker had this too, but Parker was nowhere near as devout as Kate. The omnipresence of religion was hard for me to get through – when at some point every single page had claims like, “God wants me to do this.” “Would God hate me if I did that?” “Could God forgive that?” “God is testing me.” “God brought me to you.” Urgh. Me no likey. I have nothing against religion, but I am not religious. The way that Kate tries to push her beliefs unto others at the beginning of the book majorly irritated me, and though she grew from that by the end, I still disliked being in her head.
But the romance is sweet and that is for sure. Matt is super duper charming. He’s a guitar player, a runner, and since I read the series out of order, I know he’s Jeremiah’s brother (Breathe, Annie, Breathe). It was definitely fun for me to hear in passing how Jere’s a manwhore xD Anyway, he went to camp with Kate when they were little, and they instantly reconnect. I liked seeing that relationship progress, because Matt is a great guy and he challenges Kate to mellow out a little bit. She just has had NO experience before him, which created that super judgmental attitude in her. She doesn’t know what it’s like to WANT to be with a guy, and Matt changes that. The kisses between them were super swoony. But the romance won’t be my favorite of Kenneally’s – I felt it was a bit too sappy sweet for me. There was almost no banter (SADFACE), and at the end they were all like, “God brought me to you,” and stuff which I raise some serious eyebrow at.
Probably what really saved the book for me was the presence of Parker and Will. I already fell in love with them in Stealing Parker, because Will is just a golden boy, and I related to Parker a whole lot. Parker and Kate don’t get along at the beginning of the story, because Kate is all uppity with her beliefs – but Parker acts as one catalyst for her to grow up. She actually tells her she’s being judgmental and rude – echoing my thoughts as the reader. Parker doesn’t trust Kate at all because she’s one of the members of her church who turned her back on her when her mom left. But gradually, the two become friends, and it’s such a great, healthy friendship in the end that really benefits both of them. It was super sweet. And Will’s always around being an uber cutie. Seeing Parker and Will together was also fun, NGL.