What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published: April 15th 2014 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Source: Purchased from Book Depository
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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.
My Life Next Door is one of my favourite contemporary books so I really don’t know why I’ve waited so long to read What I Thought Was True. As I’ve come to expect this book was a joy to read. It has interesting characters, plenty of heart and is beautifully written
This story doesn’t have a big, dramatic plot. It is very much a character driven story. It takes place in the summer and our protagonist, Gwen, has taken a job caring for an elderly woman who’s in need of a companion. Gwen is very much a flawed character and I love how she acknowledges those flaws and doesn’t shy away from her imperfections. She owns up to the mistakes she made and how they might impact those she cares about, which is something I really admire about her. Coming in to this summer she is still trying to forget the events that took place in the spring. However, her past becomes her present and she is forced to face the boy who hurt her, Cassidy Somers, who has taken a job on the island, meaning that she will be forced to see him on a daily basis. It takes a while for us to find out what happened that spring and in between all this we see that there’s still an attraction between the two but the hurt and reminder of what had previously transpired between them is still fresh in her mind. When we do find out what had happened, my heart well and truly went out to not only Gwen, but also to Cass and I understood why Gwen reacted the way she did. Gwen herself has gained a bit of a reputation one that’s a lot more hurtful to her than she lets on. I think she has a tendency to hide her emotions and because of that she’s not really opened herself up to the possibility of having a committed relationship. We see this in the way she regards a gesture, such as hand holding, in such an intimate manner. We also see through the interactions with one of the characters why she may feel that her reputation of being “easy” may be true. In the flashbacks we see how this person treats her as a conquest. He played on Gwen’s emotions and didn’t care about the fallout of his actions.
I could write an essay about how much I admire Gwen but there is another character that deserves some attention and that is Cass. When we first met him I didn’t really know what to think. I knew these two had a history and while he came across as this charming guy I was a little bit wary of him because of this past. However, it turns out that the events of the spring also had a profound effect on him and we see how much he was also hurting over the events. In the beginning we see that despite their interactions they’re still dancing around the main issues between them. However, when they got everything out in the open, both of them owning up to their mistakes and regrets their connection only intensifies. Cass is a good guy, he’s not perfect and he knows it, he’s charming, a little bit cocky and has a good heart. This is highlighted in his interactions with not only Gwen but with her little brother.
That brings me to another reason I love this book because Huntley builds up a wonderful family dynamic. This is an aspect that truly stands out in this book and in My Life Next Door. Gwen’s relationship with her family members is very close but also a bit complex. Her parents are divorced, but her dad remains to be a permanent fixture in their lives. She lives with her mum, Grandpa Ben, little brother Emory, and her cousin Nic. The connection this family have and the dynamic between them was an absolute joy to read. They’re all so supportive of one another even when they disagree with one another.
I think my main issue with this book was the secondary characters. I never really connected to Gwen’s friend and Nic’s girlfriend, Viv. The drama and conflict that arises between Nic and Viv was not something that interested me and I didn’t really like the way it played out. Another character that I did not like at all was Spence, Cass’ best friend. Throughout the book I felt like he was never really considerate of his friendship with Cass and I think that he’s the kind of guy that takes advantage of their friendship.
Overall this is a wonderful summer read, filled with an interesting array of characters, a gorgeous romance, and a great family dynamic. It also highlights the way that some things may not always be the way it seems.