Sunday, April 13, 2014

What I Thought Was True (Early Book Review)

Sunday, April 13, 2014 2:02 PM with 18 comments

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What I Thought Was True

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books
Number of Pages: 416
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From 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.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.


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MY THOUGHTS:

I was completely charmed by Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door, so I was obviously thrilled when I was given the opportunity to read her newest offering. What I Thought Was True has several of the things I look for in a YA romance: a relatable female protagonist, a cute boy, an idyllic summer/beach location, feisty friends, and, of course, a sweet romance. I was a bit nervous going in after seeing a couple of early star-ratings and statements about how it doesn't come close to her debut, but I needn't have worried. I loved What I Thought Was True and found it just as charming, albeit different, from the author's beloved first book.

WITWT follows a teen named Gwen Castle. A half-white, half-Puerto Rican who lives on the small island of Seashell year-round. The island is full of beautiful houses that are owned by "summer people", while those who permanently live on the island are those who run it for the rich who come in the summer: the restauranteurs, the maids, the fisherman, etc. Gwen lives with her mother; her grandfather; her younger brother, Emory; and her cousin, Nico. The house they live in is tight with Gwen sharing a room with her mother, who works as a maid, and the three males sharing the other room of their small house. Nic and Gwen are the same age and have been raised together their whole lives. For years Nic has been dating Gwen's best friend, Vivien, and she is used to being their third wheel. Gwen's father also lives on the island and while she usually works as a waitress at his restaurant in the summers, this year she has decided to work as a "sitter" to the lovely old lady, Mrs. Ellington, who, after a nasty fall, finds that she is unable to do all that she used to do. 

Things get complicated for Gwen when she discovers that Cassidy Somers (Cass) is also spending the summer on the island as the official yard-boy. Cass and his best friend, Spencer, live across the bridge from Seashell in the town of Stony Bay, but have attended school with the local kids for the past year after getting the boot from their prestigious private school. Cass and Gwen have a past that is slowly revealed throughout the novel as they also start to grow closer once again.

Again, I really enjoyed What I Thought Was True. I absolutely adored the little town of Seashell. I'm seriously such a sucker summer books that take place on the beaches of the East Coast. It has always been my dream to have a summer house in a small East Coast beach town (and now that I'll have summers off, the dream is just that much closer--yay teaching). I loved Cass--so cute, and for the most part really liked Gwen although some aspects of her character got on my nerves. I really liked how the story wasn't all romance. A good part of the book focused on Gwen's family, especially her younger brother and her cousin. Focus was also given to Nic and Viv's relationship. 

Gwen's brother, Emory, has some sort of undiagnosed developmental problems. He isn't autistic, we are told a couple of times, but does display autistic-like symptoms. He becomes enthralled with Cass and calls him Superman. For his part, Cass embraces the little dude and decides that he is going to help teach him to swim when he finds out that the 7 year-old doesn't know how even though he lives on an island. I loved little Em and wanted to reach in the book and give him a giant hug.

I also liked the look at Nic and Viv's long-term relationship and the way older teens who've been together forever inevitably have to examine their lives and their relationship to see if it will last after high school (of which they all have one more year). Neither Nic nor Gwen want to get stuck on the island forever like Gwen's parents, but both know that they will be responsible for Em for the rest of their lives. Nic wants to go to The Academy and join the National Guard, but Viv is terrified that their relationship will not survive the separation. I found their relationship to be sweet and realistic and appreciated that the story allowed for the secondary characters to have a real story of their own. 

Speaking of realistic, I appreciated the fact that Gwen isn't a saint. She has made mistakes and has already slept with a couple of different guys at the beginning of the story. She regrets some of her decisions, but I liked that she wasn't the typical YA heroine. All girls are different. I personally was a bit of a late bloomer, but I had several friends who made regretful decisions in high school, and ones who made exactly the right decisions for themselves. There is no right way to be. Girls should never be judged by their sex lives--or lack thereof, and I love it when authors allow for their characters to be real.

My only, and truly small, complaint of the story is the way Gwen occasionally talks down about her body. Throughout the novel she makes comments about being fat or how if she ate too many cookies and now she is fat. It is obvious from the attention she gets that Gwen is a beautiful girl, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when authors perpetuate the idea that girls feel like they have to achieve some unattainable standard of beauty--which makes girls continue to believe they have to obtain that standard. A teen girl who is reading a YA novel should never have to hear the narrator refer to herself as fat because she ate too many cookies. Embrace the body God gave you! 

Overall, I loved What I Thought Was True. The romance is sweet, the location is ideal, the secondary characters shined, and all the characters were realistic and real. If you enjoyed the author's first book, have no fear, this one is different, but lovely in its own way. If you haven't read Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut, you should remedy that immediately and then read this one.

Highly Recommend.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*

18 comments:

  1. I love small, little beach towns! I really need to move to one, and far away from this cold and snow!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. I love them, too. It is finally getting nicer where I live, but it was a horrible winter. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I was really worried it wouldn't live up to my expectations, since I'm love My Life Next Door, I'm happy to hear its just as good! :)

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    1. It's different, and the romance isn't quite as sugar-y, but I did like it just as much. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I'm really excited to read this, though a little worried that I might not love it as much as MLND. I'm glad this book's faults are minor.

    Great review. :)

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    1. It's always hard to pick up an author's next book after LOVING their first one. I really did like this and I hope you do, too. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Yay! Glad you loved this one. I need to pick up a book by this author soon! Great review =D

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    1. I really like both her first and this one. She is definitely someone you should give a try. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Great review! I'm really excited for this one. It sounds like it will be amazing.

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    1. It's a pretty simple book, but I did like it a lot. I hope you love it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Oh, I'm so happy you loved this one! I absolutely loved My Life Next Door and made a bunch of my friends read it. And that makes me so relieved that the characters are realistic…I hate it when the characters are just too perfect. Oh, and I love it when the secondary characters are just as lovable. Great review! I'm beyond excited to read this one now :)

    -Jessica (Peace Love Books)

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    1. I hope you love it! I really did like both the realistic nature and the secondary characters. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. This sounds really sweet! I do like books that explore family relationships as well as romantic ones...it just makes the characters deeper, I reckon, because families are AWESOME. Bit sad about the unattainable beauty standard. I'm a little tired of reading that in books, I confess. *sigh* BUT, I'll definitely be keeping me eye on this one!

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    1. It was pretty small. She doesn't say it all the time or anything, but I really noticed it when she did. I do love it when authors focus on families which the author did well in both this one and her debut. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Awesome review! I am so excited for this one. It sounds like a fabulous beach read…the setting sounds great too. I am a little upset to hear that the main character talks down about her body. That's a shame…not a fan of that, especially with all that women/young girls have to deal with regarding the media. Thanks for the heads up about that. Other than that one issue, it seems to be fantastic! I am looking forward to reading it!

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    1. I LOVED the setting. Beaches are just the best for summer. Yeah, the body thing always drives me crazy. I know women/girls have body issues, but I just feel having it in YA fiction perpetuates it. I hope you love it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Yay, so glad you like this one! It's on my definite TBR list and I hope to read it this week. As far as the issue with the girl talking down about her body, sadly, that's pretty realistic so if that's what the author was going for...not too many teenage girls are satisfied with the way they look. It's actually nice to know that it's different from My Life Next Door. The author's not just writing the same book with different characters. Great review! ~Pam

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    1. It IS realistic and I do get that, BUT I just get so sick of hearing young girls complain about their bodies. When I was student teaching last semester I would hear these beautiful senior girls complaining about their bodies and it just made me so, so sad.

      It is definitely is a different story than the first although both are YA romance, of course. It does seem like some authors tell the same story over and over. Thanks for stopping by!

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!