Title: What I Thought Was True
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 15th 2014
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
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My rating: 4 out of 5 starsFrom the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.
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.
Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut, My Life Next Door, was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was beyond excited when I heard she had another book coming out, and set on the same summer island, too. And while I didn't love What I Thought Was True quite as much as My Life Next Door, I still really enjoyed Huntley Fitzpatrick's sophomore novel.
I absolutely loved our main character Gwen. I've read a couple of reviews that weren't happy with Gwen and her decision-making, but I found her to be realistic and relatable, and I felt for her throughout the novel. I'm always happy when we get a variation from the stereotypical shy, good-girl character, so I really appreciated that Gwen had a bit of a history when it comes to guys. I wish that aspect had been explored more, though; her reputation and the slut-shaming affected Gwen a lot at the beginning of the novel but weren't really mentioned anymore later on. Also, I wish Cass's and her irresponsibility during their earlier hookup hadn't been glossed over like it was, because the whole sex-with-a-random-person-without-a-condom-is-okay-as-long-as-you're-on-birth-control thing didn't sit right with me.
The family storyline was probably my favorite part of the novel. I love that Gwen comes from a working-class background where money actually is an issue, unlike so many YA contemporaries. And the parents play a pretty important rule in the story, too! I really enjoyed the family atmosphere, Gwen's relationship with her cousin Nic, and of course her little brother Em. And while she's not technically part of the family, I loved reading about Gwen's best friend Viv too. I really appreciated that the romance didn't always take center stage and that we got to read about Gwen's other relationships and the stories of other people as well.
The romance, sadly, was the only storyline I didn't love. The set-up, with the flashbacks to Cass's and Gwen's earlier hookup, in between the story today, didn't really work for me. I never got a clear sense of what their relationship was like before that first time, which made me kind of suspicious of Cass's claims that he had had feelings for Gwen all along. But maybe I just didn't get it because it took me a looong time to get through What I Thought Was True. (I don't know why I thought starting a book right before finals was a good idea.) But because I never really got a sense of their past involvement, the story now seemed a little too insta-love-y to me: I didn't really feel the chemistry between them, they developed too strong feelings for each other within such a short period of time, and their relationship seemed a little too perfect (except for the obligatory drama right before the ending, of course). The whole second half of the novel seemed a little rushed to me: the pace at the beginning is very slow, and towards the end, there's a million things happening at once, so I wish that been balanced a little better.
Despite my problems with the romance, I really enjoyed What I Thought Was True. Huntley Fitzpatrick's writing is great, and I loved the summer feeling she conveyed throughout this novel. I can't wait t read more by this author!