Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Title: What I Thought Was True
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: n/a
Publisher: Dial BFYR
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

"I have the weirdest feeling of loss. As though while Cass was on the island he was becoming a little bit ours, a little bit of an island boy. But it looks as though, after all, he really belongs across the bridge."
I loved Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut My Life Next Door. It was clever and genuine and just completely engaging. And now that I've read her sophomore novel, I can honestly say that I wouldn't be able to pick a favorite because I loved What I Thought Was True just as much as Fitzpatrick's first novel. I loved Gwen's biting sarcasm. I appreciated the frank discussions about sex and love and relationships. And I really enjoyed the familial aspect because that is so lacking in so many young adult novels these days.

Those things aside, this story kind of reminded me of a Jane Austen novel: the miscommunication, the swoons, the verbal sparring. A snarky heroine who speaks her mind at the most inopportune moments. A gentlemanly love interest who is woefully misunderstood and whose actions have been misconstrued. A love that transgresses a difference in class. And I loved every second of it. I saw quite a few people DNF this book, and I guess maybe the first half was a tad slow, but it's all working to build the atmosphere of the island, to increase the reader's anticipation as you work to discover just what did happen between Gwen and Cass to put them so at odds with each other. And I have to admit, the big nameless thing wasn't what I expected, but it ended up turning the story in a direction I really liked because it's pretty obvious that what Gwen thought was true wasn't the truth at all, as so many of the characters in this story are set out to discover during this fateful summer.

Gwen is not your naive, virginal protagonist. Some may argue that she's actually quite promiscuous, but I'd counter that with the fact that in this day and age, three sexual partners at the age of 17 isn't all that unheard of. Maybe not recommended but definitely not unheard of. Sure, she's made some mistakes and she has some regrets, but those have nothing to do with her sexual history. Gwen owns up to what she's done and makes no excuses for her actions. And she's taking care not to repeat her mistakes, though Cass seemingly being everywhere she is does make that difficult at times. As does the fact that she's still very much attracted to him, so it came as little surprise that they rekindled what might have been the spring before. But this time, they're getting it all out in the open, clearing the air and inviting open and honest discussion with each other.
    "I'm on the pill."
    "How the hell was I supposed to know that? You could have mentioned it."
    "You didn't ask."
    "We should have used a condom anyway. But I could hardly think, Gwen. One minute we were kissing and the next minute your shirt was off and that was it--no more thinking."
Sex was a major part of the plot of this novel. Not the having of it, but it was definitely a running theme. Even Gwen's mom and Gwen's elderly employer got in on it, with their love for bodice-ripper type romance novels. I think what was more shocking was the fact that old Mrs. Ellington, with her refined manner of speech and her high-born airs, requested that Gwen read -- out loud -- from just such novels, for the entertainment of not only Mrs. E but her circle of friends, as well. I think those were some of the funnier parts of the story and provided some much needed levity in a summer story that's anything but light and fluffy.

Gwen's dad was also quite the character, with his words of wisdom and knowledge on all manner of things. And sometimes he was surprisingly helpful with his daddisms, but not necessarily when it came to drugs...that conversation cracked me up. But I adored all of Gwen's family, from her hard-working mother, to her illegal lobster-catching Grandpa Ben, right down to her little brother Emory, who wasn't autistic but also just a little...different. And I loved how Cass interacted with each of them, too, further proving his swoonworthy quotient by teaching little Em how to swim.

Vivien and Nic, Gwen's best friend and cousin, respectively, were big players in this story, too. And they actually had their own story arc that played out quite differently than I had been expecting, though I had my suspicions. I think adding in the love story between these secondary characters perfectly complemented what was going on in Gwen's love life. Because, yes, Gwen's love life does hit an upward trend in this story. It's not all sunshine and rainbows, but no relationship is, and anything worth having is worth working for.
    "Cass." I rest my hand on his cheek. "If we're going to talk about me having some experience, a little more, than you, can I tell you what I know...from experience?"
    He nods.
    "That I would so much rather be with someone who cared what he was doing than someone who knew what he was doing."
    And then we're kissing again.
I really think Huntley Fitzpatrick has outdone herself in the realistic characters and relatable plot departments. I can't think of another novel that felt this genuine and true-to-life, while at the same time consisting of diverse characters that are far from stereotypical. The writing is spectacular and witty, but I'd expect nothing less from such a talented author. What I Thought Was True is raw and funny, sad and hopeful, and I think that most fans of her previous novel will really enjoy this second book from Fitzpatrick. Now I'm even more anxious for the follow-up to My Life Next Door, which is Tim's story, due out next year!

GIF it to me straight:
"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

About the Author:

Huntley Fitzpatrick grew up dreamy and distracted in coastal Connecticut. She flourished in a family of bookworms where everyone always had their nose in a book. She kept an exhaustively thorough journal which frightened her boyfriends but has proved very useful in her career as a writer. Her debut contemporary Romance, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, was published in June of 2012 by Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. Now she laughs with and eavesdrops on her six children who provide her with perspective and material. She is represented by the amazing Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Find Huntley:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads


  1. I haven't read a Huntley Fitzpatrick book yet, but I really, really want to. (To be specific, I really, really want to read My Life Next Door. For some reason, I hadn't put this book on my TBR yet, but you've definitely persuaded me (with your great review), to go and fix that this instant! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Jen.

    1. And I really, really want you to! She's only published these two books so far, but Huntley Fitzpatrick is definitely on my author auto-buy list. I hope you love My Life Next Door!

  2. I can't wait to read this one--I loved My Life Next Door!

    1. This one was just as good to me as MLND, which I also adored. I hope you love it, too!

  3. Wow! What a well-wrtitten, thoroughly convincing review, Jen! Not my typical read, but how can I not read it after that! <3

    1. Aw, thank you! I'm glad I convinced you to check it out. It really is such wonderful writing. And I use to pass on contemporary all the time, but someone convinced me to give a book a try and now it's one of my favorite genres. =)

  4. Love this detailed review without spoilers surprisingly-- have to check out this book and Huntley Fitzpatrick

    1. Well, I loathe being spoiled, especially when I'm really excited for a story, so I always try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, or at least mark them accordingly. I hope you enjoy What I Thought Was True when you check it out!

  5. I am really looking forward to this one. So glad you loved it.

    this -----> "It's not all sunshine and rainbows, but no relationship is, and anything worth having is worth working for." .... Makes me sure that I will. I love when relationships in books feel read, that shit is the truth right there. :)

    1. I can't wait to see what you think, especially since it's getting such mixed reviews, even from those who loved MLND. And I think the relationship in a contemp will make or break the book for me based on how genuine it is.

  6. I really enjoyed this one, too, and was kind of surprised by how many people didn't like it. Your comparison to Jane Austen is so spot-on. I didn't even think about it until you mentioned it, but you are so right. I loved her family and how the secondary characters played such important roles instead of being just in the background. I really liked sweet Cass and snarky Gwen. I love how the author creates such real characters and can't wait to read whatever she writes next. Great review!

    1. I was surprised by that, too...I honestly couldn't find anything NOT to like about this novel. The characters were great, the story was sweet but not saccharine...I don't know. But I do know that I can't wait to read the "sequel" to My Life Next Door! :D

  7. My Life Next Door was a book I told myself LAST year that I'd read asap. Apparently, asap doesn't mean much to me anymore, and it's pathetic. NOW, I need to read BOTH of her books because I fell in love with your review. Realistic characters, ftw!

    1. Summer! You must, you absolutely MUST read both of these books! You can borrow my copies if you don't have them. :)

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