Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 15, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."Gwen lives on Seashell Island where you either work for the rich or you are the rich living in beautiful mansions. Gwen lives on the island with her mother, who cleans homes for a living, her grandfather, her cousin and her little brother. Gwen has recently acquired a less than stellar reputation with the boys' swim team due to some events that Gwen has come to regret. Cass, a member of the swim team and Gwen's secret crush, is someone that she tries to avoid at all costs, but it's going to be hard this summer since he is the island's gardener/yard boy. She feels like she can't get away from her mistakes and wants more for her life than just serving the rich people on the island. But as the summer progresses, she comes to realize that maybe she was wrong about Cass after all. Huntley Fitzpatrick's What I Thought Was True is a fresh breath of air for the young adult contemporary genre. The characters are flawed and the situations are real. Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this summertime romance.
Gwen is the type of girl that feels real. She could be my next door neighbor or someone I knew in high school. I love when authors make characters like this…less than perfect, but still someone to root for. She made some decisions that I didn't necessarily agree with (especially involving birth control), but I still cared about her and her situation. With that said, Fitzpatrick does a great job with character development. Gwen is a well-rounded and complex character that I liked, whether I agreed with her decisions or not. Which leads me to her family….
Bravo, Fitzpatrick, for creating a family that isn't perfect, but is still involved in each other's lives. I loved that Gwen lived with not only her mom and special needs brother, but her cousin and grandfather as well. They were definitely a cast of characters, but again, they felt real to me even though they were secondary characters. Her parents are divorced and her dad owns a restaurant on the island and Gwen finds herself working there from time to time. It felt like a realistic situation and a nice change from all those perfect and wealthy families in young adult literature. What I Thought Was True also focuses on classes--the working class versus the rich people on the island. I think Fitzpatrick did a brilliant job depicting this, especially when Gwen starts to work for one of the richest women on the island.
The romance was slow moving in What I Thought Was True, but I enjoyed that. I know some people had a few issues with pacing and felt that the novel was slow in parts, but for me, it worked. Sometimes you just need that and a break from all the insta-love in young adult literature. There's a lot of backstory and slow growth in this novel, but it felt genuine and not rushed like a lot of contemporary romances out there. Although Cass isn't your typical "yard boy" for the island and just like Gwen, I had some preconceived notions about him, he grew on me as the story progressed, especially with how he treats Gwen's special needs brother. I loved his compassion and was rooting for him from that moment on.
Fitzpatrick's Seashell Island is amazing. She depicts it beautifully in What I Thought Was True. I want to live there. She captured every magical moment in the summertime on an island. The fireflies, the ocean, the beach parties….perfection.
If you are a fan of summertime romances, check out Fitzpatrick's What I Thought Was True. There's so much more here than just a fluffy romance here. I even liked the way it ended…very realistic. Fitzpatrick does a fantastic job with this coming-of-age summertime romance.