Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: What I Thought Was True + GIVEAWAY

Title: What I Thought Was True
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Source: Purchased
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.

My Review

It's been about a month since I first read Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door, and because of how lovely it was, I immediately wanted to read her sophomore novel.  

What I Thought Was True is another summer contemporary. I thought that this summer would be the perfect time to read it because there is something magical about reading summer contemporaries in the season in which they are set. Besides, I love contemporary YA novels, so I thought it would be a wonderful way to get ready for Huntley's third book, The Boy Most Likely To.

Unfortunately, What I Thought Was True and I weren't best friends. I don't even know if I'd consider us peers because there was just so much that I did not like about this book. 

It took me a very, very, very long time to get into What I Thought Was True. It also took me a long time to finish the book. I think it's because it just starts up, with very little explanation as to what's going on and what's happened before the events in the book take place. Because of that, I found myself lost, and I contemplated moving this book to the back burner.

One thing that bothered me was the pacing of the plot and the book. There's a story to be told; don't get me wrong, but something was very wrong with how it was told. The pacing felt off to me for some reason, and I can't even pin down the reason. Some chapters fly by very quickly, but others drag, almost as if they will never be over. It's hard to get into a book when you feel like the ebb and flow just feels completely off, and this one has the reader swimming in rough waters.

Another thing that bothered me was Gwen's voice. I wouldn't call her an unreliable narrator, but something about her telling the story felt awkward and forced. From the very first chapter, I wanted this book to be told from another character's point of view. I think it would have made it a better reading experience for me.

Marion Ross as Mrs. Ellington?
The characters really aren't all that bad, but all of them have something going on, and it's a bit too much to handle. (I know a lot of people don't like Gwen, and I can see why.) Gwen is something else. She's very hot and cold with the people in her life, and sometimes, it made me want to DNF the book. I just don't like seeing people treat other people like crap, and even if it is a defense mechanism, it gets annoying. Cass was probably my favorite teenage character in this book because he really seems to understand that he's made mistakes, and he wants to fix them. But my favorite character would have to be Mrs. Ellington, the elderly woman who Gwen cares for over the summer. She reminded me of Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore (Richard's mother), and I was so invested in her story that I finished the book.

There were a few things that I liked about this novel. One was Gwen's heritage. She's Portuguese. I've never come across a Portuguese character in a YA novel before, so that kept me reading. I also loved how Fitzpatrick included Portuguese phrases in the dialogue.  The other thing I really liked was the inclusion of a special needs character in Emory. I think reading about him will inspire a lot of teens to learn a little more about people who are unlike them.

So... the consensus on this one... For me, there was more bad in this book than good, but the good kept me reading. If you like drama-filled books, this one is for you. If you like books where the main character questions herself about pretty much everything, this book is definitely for you. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride.

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