Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Sixteen Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

Title: Sixteen Things I Thought Were True
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: March 4th 2014
Pages: 283
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue
When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...
Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue
Not that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?
5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue
With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.
My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

I love Janet Gurtler's writing, so I was really excited to read her newest novel. As always, I loved Janet Gurtler's easy-to-read, fun writing style, which made the book worthwhile for me. Sadly, though, some parts of the story had flaws that I couldn't look past, making 16 Things I Thought Were True only an okay read for me.

I think the problem with Sixteen Things I Thought Were True is that there's just too much going on - I don't even know where to start. There's Morgan's mother's heart condition, Morgan's attempt to establish a relationship with her father, the road trip,  the romance with Adam, Morgan trying to deal with the aftermath of her online humiliation and the falling-out with her ex-best friend Lexi, and towards the end there's a huge plot twist with that adds another big conflict. Each storyline on its own had a lot of potential, but because there is so much going on, none of them could be explored in enough depth.

The storyline I enjoyed the most is the one concerning Morgan's family issues. I really liked getting to see Morgan try to establish some sort of relationship with the father she's never met and try to work things out with her mother. I wish Janet Gurtler had gotten rid of some of the other storylines in order to focus more on this one: it had a lot of potential, and I wish Morgan's emotions regarding her family had been developed more.

To be honest, one storyline I think could have gotten cut is the one concerning Morgan's online humiliation and her falling-out with Lexi. I do think that her humiliation provides a necessary background for her estrangement with her peers, but the whole thing just seemed kind of dumb to me. It bothered me how Morgan acts like she made a huge mistake by dancing around in guy's underwear, but honestly, what's the big deal? There's nothing wrong with that. Yes, I get that having it end up online is humiliating, but that doesn't mean that the dancing itself is doing anything wrong. The falling-out with her ex-best friend Lexi, the one who put that embarrassing video up online, also seemed kind of unnecessary - it's just kind of added on and never really explored in any detail, and we never find out why Lexi stopped being friends with Morgan.

The characters are okay. Morgan isn't exactly easy to like, but she grew on me over the course of the novel. The rest of the characters, though, are definitely lacking depth, again because of the too-much-going-on thing. Especially Adam is underdeveloped, and I never felt like we really got to know him, which kind of ruined the whole romance storyline. All of the characters have interesting backgrounds that I would have loved to explore more, but because there's so much going on in these 300 pages, I couldn't really get to know any of them.

That's really what it comes down to - there's just too much going on. I really liked the family storyline and the road trip, but they fall short because of all the other stuff that's going on at the same time. I think Janet Gurtler just tried to pack too much into these 300 pages. Especially the plot twist towards the end is too much, and at that point, it just got kind of ridiculous. Sixteen Things I Thought Were True had a lot of potential, but I couldn't really enjoy it because of the lack of depth in any singular storyline. I do still love Janet Gurtler's writing, though, so I'm looking forward to seeing if I like her next book better.


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