Monday, October 13, 2014

What I Thought Was True - Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True book cover
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is. (from Goodreads)

Here’s the first thing you need to know about What I Thought Was True, and it’s possibly the most important thing I’ll say about it: It is not My Life Next Door. It is written with Fitzpatrick’s style, and it’s just as readable as the latter, true. But the story, the characters – it’s all completely different. And, truth be told, I really, really liked it.

In What I Thought Was True, Gwen Castle experiences a summer that changes her entire life. Without a doubt, in spite of sounding like a cliché, this type of plot is one of my favorites to read about in contemporaries. Gwen believes certain things to be the truth, but learns that there might be more to things than meets her eyes. From her relationship with her best friends, to romance (hers and that of other people she cares for), to family, and especially about herself, Gwen’s perceptions are thoroughly challenged. Her story is complicated, and there’s a lot of hard stuff there, but I still found it very fascinating and authentic. 

Gwen is easy to like, as she’s strong, independent and willing to work hard to get places. I really related to her dedication to her family in particular, and loved that she often allowed her vulnerability to shine through that tough girl front. Cass, on the other hand, wound up charming his way into my heart. His willingness to work hard, and the surprising sincerity and vulnerability he displays really got to me. And then there’s the rest of the characters – Emory (Gwen’s darling little brother), her grandfather (a funny old fella), her mother (a hard-working gal who also happens to be a true romantic), her father (a brusque man who wants the best for his family), Nic (her talented, driven cousin) and Viv (her lifelong best friend) among many others – who made this story even better. 

Fitzpatrick’s writing, as with her debut, is still gorgeous. She manages to perfectly convey the complexities and nuances of the complicated life of a teenaged girl, particularly one in Gwen’s situations. She also manages to write characters that pop right off the page and into my heart (particularly Emory, Gwen’s little brother). Plus, she totally clinches her awesome writing skills with her depiction of Seashell Island, enticing me to want to see and experience this setting for myself.

It’s fairly obvious that I really liked What I Thought Was True. Though it feels very different from My Life Next Door, it’s definitely still a very solid read in its own right. Fitzpatrick has, once again, written an engaging story colored with situations that feel true, and characters I fell hard for. I really enjoyed this, and I look forward to whatever Fitzpatrick has up her sleeve for us next!

3 comments:

  1. I am so happy you liked this!! And I TOTALLY agree about the story being SO different from MLND but equally captivating and amazing. I LOVED Gwen and found her as a girl we can all relate to at one time or another. And Cass?! Awkward little turtle, he totally grew on me! Yay! SO happy!

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  2. You're right - this is so completely different than MLND, but at least both of us adored them both! :) The characters here are wonderful (though there are a couple I don't actually like) and the romance is super swoony. I will read anything this woman writes!
    Great review as always, Alexa. <3

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  3. I liked this one! Very much different from My Life Next Door (and I think I liked that one better), but still a charming read. I look forward to see what she comes up with next!

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