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What I Thought Was True Hardcover – April 15, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Seventeen-year-old Gwen Castle has lived in Seashell, Connecticut her whole life, waiting hand and foot on the rich clientele who come to the island every year for a picturesque summer. And she's tired of it. The summer means getting to spend time on the beach, but it also means working long shifts at her dad's restaurant, being the third wheel to her best friend Vivien and her cousin Nico who are madly in love, and taking care of her younger brother with special needs. Suddenly, Gwen is given the opportunity to work as a caregiver for a rich elderly woman, and everything starts to change. She's forced to spend more time with the well-off and charming Cass, with whom she had a one-night stand last year. Gwen knows she should hate him after everything that happened, but the more she gets to know him, the more sparks fly. The teen begins to question what she thought was true-about Cass, about her family and friends, and about herself. This novel tells a beautiful story of first love and although some of the background information is slow to be revealed, Gwen's character has the kind of depth and voice that will enchant teens. Those with regrets of their own will find hope in this coming-of-age romance that will appeal to fans of Deb Caletti and Sara Zarr.—Candyce Pruitt-Goddard, Hartford Public Library, CT
Gwen Castle feels like her future is sealed for myriad reasons: because of the working-class family she was born into; because of the beach town where she grew up and where her family owns a ramshackle summer business she can’t get away from; and, cringingly, because of some ill-fated decisions she made around a group of richer guys from the mainland back in the spring. But then Gwen is offered a ritzy summer job taking care of a wealthy elderly vacationer, and gorgeous Cassidy Summers, one of her spring hookups, is hired to be the island’s yard boy. Individually, Gwen and Cass each begin to reconsider how much control they actually have on the direction of their lives. Fitzpatrick (My Life Next Door, 2012) offers a sometimes steamy and very believable account of how it feels to discover how important it is to take responsibility for oneself and the decisions that shape one’s life. A must for collections that can’t keep Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, or YA summer romance titles on the shelves. Grades 9-12. --Lexi Walters Wright
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To tell the truth, the blurb only hints at the complexity of the book. This book is about so much more than Gwen and Cass. It's about Gwen's family and friends too. Let's talk about the sneak peek first. It was only the first three chapters and I was left wondering why the publisher Dial was being cruel to all the bloggers and readers who didn't get access to the whole book. I mean it's a great introduction to Gwen's family but only hints at why Gwen wants to get off the island so badly and what Cass is to her.
So, I read the sneak peek and immediately went and bought the hardback. I knew waiting was going to be tough, but I wanted to have the book to hold and I devoured the rest when it arrived. The wait was well worth it. I really liked Gwen. She's a teenager whose in a situation not entirely of her making and seeing parts of it that are her fault hurt her. She's been labeled something she's not and even though she knows it's not true, hearing the words again and again are still painful. I wanted to both hug Gwen and shake her at the same time. In the beginning I didn't understand what Cass had done to hurt Gwen but when I did, I was not happy. Just to reassure you, I did end up liking Cass, a lot, it just took me a while to reconcile and process all the information I had.
One of the most interesting and complex tracks in this story and a twist I didn't see coming and then did later on involved Gwen's cousin Nico. I felt his pain like a blow to my chest. Life can really feel unfair sometimes. I feel so bad about this, but I've got to get it off my chest. SPOILER ALERT!!! Please don't read on if you haven't read the book. If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Nico was accused of cheating towards the end of the book which is something Cass said justified some behaviors. What I would like to know is, how did he cheat? The accusations were never addressed, only made. End of spoiler.
I read somewhere Huntley is writing a sequel/follow up book to her amazing debut book, My Life Next Door, and I know I can't wait to read it, but I do hope Huntley will revisit the characters from this book as well. I also know I'd read anything she wrote and know it would be a great quality read.
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Kindle copy bought from Amazon
Summary (from Goodreads):
Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. 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.
What I Liked:
I bought this book months ago, just a little bit after it was published in April of 2014, and it took me THIS LONG to get to it. Review books get maximum priority over books I buy or borrow from the library, so a lot of times, I'll buy a book I've not read before, and it just sits there. Like this one. My Life Next Door is one of my favorite YA contemporaries, and while I don't think this is another *favorite* (it's a tough title to earn!), it is definitely a YA contemporary that I actually really enjoyed. I often have a tough time with YA contemporary.
Gwen wants to forget what happened last year, especially with Cassidy Somers, who was a mistake. She lives on an island with her mother, grandfather, little brother, and cousin. They are poor and work for the richer folk on the island. Gwen takes a job "babysitting" an older lady whose leg is injured. But she isn't the only one working - rich, privileged Cassidy Somers is now the yard boy of the island. Sparks fly and secrets unfold as Gwen's summer pans out to be not what she expected.
I loved and hated Gwen. She and I are very, very different, and while I respect her as a female and like her as a person, I will start by first saying that her decisions regarding boys are not decisions I like, would do, or approve of. If that makes sense. I don't want to spoil much, but I thought I'd add that note. Don't get me wrong! I like Gwen. But I wouldn't have made the choices she did.
Nevertheless, Gwen is a hard worker. I like her work ethic - she and I came from similar backgrounds, financially. Although, Gwen is a child of divorced parents, and has a brother who has a an unknown condition similar to autism. Gwen and her cousin Nico act like third and fourth parents for Emory, which isn't fair to them (he's not either of their child), but they sacrifice much for Emory selflessly. Gwen is constantly helping her mom, her father at his store, and takes on a job she doesn't want, babysitting old Mrs. Ellington.
I felt weird about Gwen, and didn't like her, in the beginning of the book. As well as when we discover why she is running from Cass. It's not revealed all at once, it takes a while, but after each revelation, I was a bit more disappointed in Gwen. And then we find out WHY she did what she did (which I suspected all along), and I was angry and disappointed, but then at least I understood. She is a teenage girl that I have seen over and over in college, so I think I understand her, even if I am not her.
I like Cass a lot. He is a sweet guy, and he is totally misjudged by Gwen. Gwen jumps to all kinds of conclusions (for no substantial reason, really), and she pushes him away. He isn't a "bad boy" or a player or flirtatious. He's charming, a gentleman, with wicked appeal. He is working as a yard boy despite being the son of a very rich family. He needs to improve his performance at his school, which is why he is working (doing hard work), why he is training for his swim team over the summer, and why he asks Gwen to tutor him in English over the summer.
The story is very flowy, like it meanders, in a very story-like way. It doesn't feel like there will be some catastrophic climax that will decide everything, though I did catch foreshadowing more than once (and was right about all of it - especially with Spence at the end!). I like the flow of the story - it's almost conversational, though it's told from Gwen's first-person POV.
Romance! The romance in this story is a difficult one. Gwen and Cass have history, and Gwen has serious trust issues, and doesn't see her flaws. She's blind and naive and wants Cass to want her but then gets mad when he wants her and he confused and I'm confused! She's way too complicated for me, way too much like many college girls, who over-analyze everything in terms of boys and turn everything into a problem. But then again, most boys lead girls to be like that. But then again again, Cass wasn't like that. It takes a while for Gwen to realize this. But I love seeing Gwen and Cass actually fall for each other. Their relationship is rocky but developed, and towards the end, very swoon-worthy!
Character development is so good in this novel! It's not just Gwen's story - it's Cass's story, and how he deals with accepting the consequences of his actions at his school. It's Nic and Vivian's story, as they explore their relationship, the good and the bad. It's Emory's story, as he learns to swim. It's Gwen's mother's story, who cleans houses around the clock every day and never seems to be angry or frustrated. This book has so many positive relationships (despite three very crappy ones from Gwen's past), and it has very developed and well-rounded characters!
Overall, I liked this book. I didn't like it at first, as I was reading, but I started to understand Gwen better, and I really got into the story. There is so much more than Gwen and Cass - Gwen's job, Nic and Vivian (who is Gwen's best friend, and also Nic's girlfriend), Emory learning to swim, Spence Channing becoming more... likable. I didn't like him at first, and I'm still wary of him, but he's okay. I totally saw the ending coming. It was odd, sad, but uplifting!
What I Did Not Like:
Like I said about Gwen - I didn't like her at first. It went in waves - sometimes I liked her, sometimes I didn't. Her choices would never be my choices, but I understand her. I don't think even she is proud of her choices, and I'm happy with her character development!
Would I Recommend It:
I would recommend this one! Despite not being one for YA contemporary, I really enjoyed this book. Huntley Fitzpatrick really knows how to dig deep into YA contemporary and write more than fluff or romance. There are so many issues at hand in this story, and she writes the story beautifully!
4 stars. I'm so glad I bought this one! Even though I didn't read it until about a year later. I'm getting ready to crack open my review copy of The Boy Most Likely To, so it's good timing!