Truth & Consequences
'The Last Best Story' by Maggie Lehrman is provocative and intriguing, bringing a shadow of a doubt to the truth-finding process and how life throws curveballs that can throw one's life completely off-kilter.
Rose and Grant have been friends and newspaper buddies since freshman year. Over their time on the paper together, their relationship has stayed pretty constant, and they are generally found co-conspiring about how to work the story to their mutual benefit and present the best piece of writing possible. They also have gone from platonic friends to two people who seemingly have feelings for one another since they have kissed (albeit once) and spent so much of their free time together. Though they have dated separate people and Rose is at prom with another guy while Grant deals with his feelings over his ex-girlfriend while he attends prom solo, they find themselves drawn to each other through the draw of finding the truth.
When someone who has been banned from prom makes his way in, he is escorted out by the vice-principal, only to be accused later on of causing the lockdown due to his having a gun on site. The prom is then waylaid, of course due to the imminent danger everyone presumes is just outside the gym doors. When Rose finds herself in the thick of the story, she can't stop herself from getting involved, despite her every desire to quit the school paper (and, by extension, her friendship/relationship with Grant) and never look back. What she finds as she searches for answers is that nothing is as it seems, and other people may be involved that she wouldn't have considered in the first place.
In 'The Last Best Story,' Maggie Lehrman teaches readers to question anything and everything about the subject at hand. Appearances can be deceiving, and without all of the facts and hearing everyone's side of the story, the wrong conclusions can be jumped to and then bandied about, allowing further gossip to thrive, and causing the truth to become an uncertainty even when presented with evidence. Lehrman's ability to tell the story by searching for the facts rather than letting opinions take over the storyline speaks to the beauty of how this story is written. It brings up issues of race and sexuality among Rose's and Grant's friends and how those issues shape what is going on, but it doesn't fixate on them, and that is a hard line to balance oneself on. However, it speaks to the idea of newspaper stories working to state the facts and steering clear of editorial tendencies that are best used elsewhere.
A scintillating and impressive novel about the excitement of knowing one's calling and the search for the real story that brings about other lingering truths, 'The Last Best Story' should be on anyone's must-read list. Once you start it, it will be hard to put it down.