Sometimes you come across a book where the fictional character who narrates becomes a person telling you their story and any notion of the author seems to fade away. In Ben Taylor, Sheila Myers has given voice to such a narrator. As The Truth of Who You Are unfolds, Ben describes the events of his life from the innocence of his preteen years in the Great Smoky Mountain foothills of Tennessee, through the hardships he and his family endure during prohibition and the Great Depression, along with his experiences in the US Conservation Corps and in World War II.
As he matures and grows, Ben sees more clearly the importance of family and of friendship. And through Ben’s narration the reader experiences not only his coming of age story, but the changes that his family and their community go through as first a lumber company, and then the government take over the land his family held for generations.
I quickly found myself swept up in this story of a man’s life and the beginnings of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, as both success and tragedy built until a particularly poignant scene followed by a gentle ending. In The Truth of Who You Are, author Sheila Myers has crafted a well-researched story with a narrator whose voice rings true.
This review refers to an advance digital copy that I voluntarily received and read courtesy of the author. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own. The Truth of Who You Are is rated PG-13.
About the Book
When his family is plunged into poverty during the Great Depression, Ben Taylor takes a job with the US Civilian Conservation Corps developing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A tragic accident puts him in a dilemma: does he let someone else take the fall for what he did so he can keep his position? The repercussions of his decision plague him all the way to the Battle of the Bulge in World War II where Ben is reunited with an old friend from his time with the Corps. Inspired by actual events and the people who once lived in the Smoky Mountains before it became a National Park, this saga explores how people use stories to hide uncomfortable truths and the lengths they’ll go to protect their home and family.
The Truth of Who You Are by Sheila Myers | Black Rose Writing, April 2022 | ebook, 257 pages