Love Rhymes

An Imagined Memoir

Fiction - New Adult
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 03/24/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Risah Salazar for Readers' Favorite

A found diary whose entries are turned into a whimsical story of love, dreams, and self-discovery -- that's what McKenzie Truscott's Love Rhymes is all about. Teenage Sarah Jane Stein writes as she pursues Michael Harrison, falls in love, and grows with him. It's an exploration of young love showing how growing can both be exhilarating yet painful; together yet apart. Each chapter starts with an old entry and ends with the present. Each one is also filled with beautiful poems, making it perfect for those who love to express and find themselves in rhyming verses.

Love Rhymes has an interesting premise, nice story-telling, and a smooth flow. Readers will no doubt admire adolescent life through the eyes of Janie while she also questions life's purpose. As a whole, it is fast-paced but specifically, it's a slow-burn romance. A charming and sweet love story with feminist takes, this book will surprise its audience in simple but substantial ways. Janie is tenacious and ambitious; she doesn't let anyone or anything stop her from living the life she wants. Aside from being romantic, it is also scientific and educational in some parts. It invites a discourse as it tackles social issues in the '60s which are still relevant today. McKenzie Truscott's message through Janie is clear: strong women are not perfect but they do keep on going even when they sometimes fail. That's a wonderful takeaway and its touching and impactful ending makes Love Rhymes even more unforgettable.

Jon Michael Miller

Although most memoirs are true, in Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir, author McKenzie Truscott starts out by saying this one is based upon a box of memorabilia, letters, and poems from which she constructed an imaginary memoir adding some fiction to what was missing. The box belonged to the protagonist, Sara Jane Stein, who we see grow up as she comes of age in the late sixties, early seventies. It is all so realistic we soon forget that some of it is made up. We see Janie’s first and long-lasting connection to a reticent but motivated young man, Michael Harrison, begun because of his beautiful hands. Thus begins a nostalgic ride from Cincinnati to Martha’s Vineyard, Ivy League colleges, the protests, road trips to Colorado and California, Kent State, along with all the cultural phenomena that most Boomer intellectuals (in this case medical) will never forget.

There are the cultural icons of Salinger, Dylan, Lennon, Friedan, Nin, Alfie, The Fantastiks, Catch 22, and a lot of first times—kiss, off to college, sex, spiritual enigmas, cosmic questions, separation, jealousy—what all of us have lived and cherished. What a time it was! And McKenzie Truscott makes it all come alive once more in Janie and Michael’s deep and poetic connection. Janie calls it all “sophomoric philosophizing,” but everyone who lived it knows better. It was life unfolding, self-discovery, a new world in the making. But there is a brilliant contrast when Michael’s Dodge Lancer breaks down on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a young mechanic of a far less philosophic class remedies the problem with uncomplicated finesse. Jane, who refers to herself as a “serial monogamist,” is a fabulously developed character constructed in her own words—real or made up, does it matter? Isn’t it truth that counts? Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir by McKenzie Truscott is a must-read for all who lived in those times and for anyone who might want to feel what it was really like.

Rabia Tanveer

Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir by McKenzie Truscott is the coming-of-age story of Sara Jane Stein as she figures out a way to live her life amid family expectations and all-consuming love. Sara Jane Stein (a.k.a. Janie) was 16 years old and a junior at Avondale High School when she began to feel something for senior Michael Harrison. His strong hands and chiseled features were exactly what she wanted in a guy. Janie was the typical high school girl with a crush on a senior boy who later became her boyfriend, but that wasn’t going to be the highlight of her life. While falling in love was easy, keeping up with her family’s expectations and her own aspirations would be far more difficult than she thought. How would Janie and Michael navigate life and balance their love at the same time? Was it even possible for their first love to last a lifetime?

Love Rhymes was such a beautiful story to read. Janie was a likable character, but more than that, she was a realistic character. She faced some difficult situations that many teenagers would crumble under or be selfish enough to go after what they truly wanted. However, Janie was different. She had huge expectations riding on her very fragile shoulders, and she just couldn’t bear it. I loved the date of the diary entry at the beginning of each chapter, and the narrative ran smoothly for me to immerse myself in the story and enjoy it to the fullest. I finished this in a single sitting because I found Janie, Lizzie, and Michael to be very genuine. The dialogues were natural, the action in the story wasn’t forced, and the emotions were so easy to feel. McKenzie Truscott's realistic and heartfelt novel was an absolute pleasure to read!

Pikasho Deka

Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir by McKenzie Truscott is a new adult coming-of-age tale set in late-60s America. 1983 -- Sarah Jane Stein discovers her diary in which she started writing as a sixteen-year-old in 1965, encapsulating her life from her late teens to early twenties. Written as a memoir, the narrative follows Janie as she tries to match her parents' expectations while navigating love and friendship. After getting acquainted with her crush Michael Harrison, Janie realizes that she has found her soulmate. Sharing similar interests and tastes, Janie and Mike become inseparable and soon start a burgeoning romantic relationship. Throughout their college years, they maintain their relationship, exchanging letters and poems. But as they continue to grow as people, they find new meaning in love and friendship.

Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir is a riveting story about growing up with your first love and discovering yourself through those experiences. Author McKenzie Truscott's decade-spanning tale is full of heart and filled with a sense of nostalgia that transports you to a time gone by. The characters feel vibrant and full of life. Janie and Mike's relationship forms the bedrock of the narrative, and their respective arcs keep you hooked throughout the pages. The plot is non-linear, often switching timelines between 1983 and the late 60s. I found the ending somewhat bittersweet yet satisfying. Apart from the story itself, some beautifully written poems will occupy your mind long after you've read them. If you're looking for a well-written coming-of-age tale, definitely check out Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir.

Ruffina Oserio

Love Rhymes: An Imagined Memoir by McKenzie Truscott is an interesting story that follows a young girl, Sarah Jane Stein, who experiences an irresistible attraction for a boy in French class: Michael Harrison. Her astonishment at the beauty of his hands establishes the first thrill that awakens her, and they eventually connect. The attraction between the two becomes stronger as Sarah Jane approaches seventeen. With demands from her family, she must find a way to balance responsibility with love. But a looming separation might shatter everything and even the poetic lines from the boy she loves might not be enough to fill the void of absence: “Hear me, S. Jane: Don't feel small; / Whatever you do, search for yourself / And see me. / I return (to you), but now I must go.” What future is there for them without the other?

Love Rhymes is true to its name: a novel that is poetically rendered, bringing the characters to life, rich in imagery and emotional complexity. It is fascinating how McKenzie Truscott captures the heart of a young girl at the sensation of first love. The writing is gorgeous and littered with poems and diary entries that expand the theme of love while providing depth to the characters. It feels so real and I enjoyed the arresting voice of the narrator, reflecting the point of view of Sarah Jane and her unique sense of humor. The descriptions are wonderful and from the first page, the reader is pulled in by the author’s ability to give strength to human emotions and capture details that enrich their humanity. Love Rhymes is a profoundly moving story told in a voice both strong and intimate, featuring relatable characters. The setting comes alive in the narrative, depicting the cultural features of the 1960s with brilliance. The writing is evocative and filled with charm, reminding readers of their lost youth and their first experience of love.