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.
“I finally get that sometimes we hold on to something – a person, a resentment, a regret, an idea of who we are – because we don’t know what to reach for next. That what we’ve done before is what we have to do again. That there are only re-dos and no do-overs. And maybe … maybe I know better than that.”
Last summer, I read My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, my first book by this author. And I loved it: the characters were charming, the romance was exciting, and the plot was energetic, constantly moving, twisting, and changing. What I Thought Was True was, though a little darker, just as stirring, inspiring just as much love for the cast of characters.
However, differing to My Life Next Door and many other YA novels like this, Gwen – our protagonist – wasn’t a pristine, do-gooder, but had a much more spirited personality. And I loved that. I loved that she had a complex past, and I loved learning about it.
I loved, overall, that she had problems. Her family had problems. She was real.
Likewise, though jarring at first, it was interesting to read a love story that had, in a way, already begun. Gwen and Cassidy – our love interest – already had a past, and it was an extra bonus to be able to piece their old story together as they began to develop their new one. The book commences about halfway through their story – the downward spiral, as it were. At first, I didn’t think it worked, but I soon got used to the flashbacks and piecing the story together, and I ended up really enjoying this aspect of the book. Not only that, but I thought it was a very unique way to tell a story – I can’t think of another book like it!
In terms of Cassidy, I felt he was a really great love interest. This is because, primarily, we perceive him as Gwen’s Biggest Mistake Ever, and it’s really hard to shake that title off him at first. However, as the story develops, and Cassidy develops with it, we are able to see a more caring, vulnerable side to the love interest, an aspect I really liked.
We rarely get a vulnerable love interest. Oftentimes, we get a player, or a joker, or the complete opposite to our protagonist, and – in a way – Cassidy is all of these things. He also, however, wears his heart on his sleeve, and it’s that that made me love this story even more.
In terms of other characters, I felt they were all really dynamic and exiting to read about; I loved, for example, how every character seemed to have a backstory, and how the story always explored it. I love that this book wasn’t just about two teenagers falling in love, but about everything happening around them, too. Mostly, though, I loved the family values this book portrayed. The Castle family – Gwen’s family – was definitely atypical to the norm, and I really liked that Huntley Fitzpatrick chose to display a family that was so unexpected, yet still so loving and strong. Gwen and Nic – her cousin – especially had a really admirable relationship – they were so devoted to one another, would do anything for each other.
That’s what family is all about, and I love that I’ve found a YA book that displays such a great dynamic between relatives.
Overall, this book was really enjoyable, from the characters, to the plot, to the romance. I was, however, a little disappointed that the majority of the problems in this book were down to miscommunication – I just found that aspect of it really frustrating!
The title of this novel contains the word ‘what,’ and so I am entering this novel for the number 14 spot on the Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge – A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How). Yay!
That what you’ve always had doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll always get. That what you’ve always wanted isn’t what you’ll always want.
I remember…watching that separation of sea and sky…and for the first time I realise that none of us are seeing the same thing. That all our horizons end in different places.
If you enjoyed _____, you’ll love What I Thought Was True!