Sunday, July 12, 2015
Review: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published Date: 17 April 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.
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.
A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti. (summary from Goodreads)
What I Thought Was True is a slow build read that portrays the depth of relationships and how they define our lives.
And miscommunication. What I Thought Was True is all about the miscommunications! At the center of this book is what happened between Gwen and Cass, and the effects simply not talking about it have had. I have to say, at times it's frustrating, but it's all part of the experience of Fitzpatrick's book, which is very much, as I said, a slow build. Here, all sorts of relationships are portrayed - between girlfriend and boyfriend, between parents, parent and child, siblings, best friends; What I Thought Was True has them all and every one of them experiences some form of miscommunication or incorrect assumption that provides both conflict and lessons throughout the story. I really liked this aspect of the novel, as it provided an authenticity, a relatability, that I enjoy about contemporary YA. Fitzpatrick is able to question some serious issues, such as teen sex, love, divorce, money, class, disability, old age. There's a little bit of everything here. But while such things are serious, What I Thought Was True still remains fairly lighthearted. After reading and loving My Life Next Door, Fitzpatrick's first book, I had certain expectations of darker consequences, of tragedy. Multiple times throughout the story I honestly thought Fitzpatrick was hinting at something terrible happening - but I was wrong. The worst tragedy of What I Though Was True is heartbreak, and looking back I do wish my expectations hadn't been so high as I couldn't help but be a little disappointed, a little "this is it?" with the ending. Ultimately I put this book at a slight disadvantage, because it really is a heartfelt read, a solid contemporary YA, and without the comparison to My Life Next Door I probably would have loved it entirely. Still, I fully engaged with this book and could not put it down, and there's no doubt that Fitzpatrick is a "must read" author for me.
All of the relationships throughout the novel have an essential significance to them that moves the story and make Gwen the character she is, as well as change her by novel's end. This provided the connection for me, seeing how the relationships define the characters and becoming invested in them and their story. What I absolutely adored about What I Thought Was True is Emory, Gwen's little brother. He's not autistic, but it is certainly a close description. He is adorable, with his stuffed hermit crab and love of old time dancing flicks, fries and superheroes. His relationship with Grandpa Ben, Gwen and Cass especially provide both a light cheerfulness and a heavier depth to the story. Every relationship has moments like these, ones of hope and ones of anger or misunderstanding. I also really liked the relationships between Gwen and Mrs Ellington, and Gwen and Nic. These are somewhat side stories to that of Gwen and Cass but just as genuine and compelling. Even Gwen's contentious relationship with her father is thought-provoking and emotional, if in different ways. What I Thought Was True stands out for its honest storytelling.
Though What I Thought Was True isn't everything I'd hoped for, it came so very close. A beautiful and real story, I finished this book with a happy sigh.