Published: April 15th, 2014 by Dial
Source: Bought (paperback)
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.
What I Thought Was True had noticeably more angst. I think, usually, that would have been okay. But after the lightness and swooning in My Life Next Door, it was a little tougher to get through. A little less cute. It was a bit frustrating to watch Cass and Gwen continually dance around each other and their pasts. Frankly, it got a little annoying. Most of me really liked them, but there was always a part of me just yelling at them to give up all the stuttering already and just move on with their lives.
What I Thought Was True just didn't captivate me in the same way that her first novel did. I never wanted to stop reading, but half the time I felt like I was only reading because I had was to find out what exactly happened between Cass and Gwen, rather than reading just because I really enjoyed them.
Despite these things, I did, of course, still enjoy the book. Most of all, I enjoyed the setting. (Though I'm still really confused about the whole island and mainland thing. Was their school on the mainland?? Was Cass living alone in the Field House on the island? SO MUCH CONFUSE.) I could picture it so, so well. I just had this image of the fog rolling over the ocean. Gwen's tiny house. Trees everywhere. It might not be the right image, but I LOVE IT. It's hard not to love a book that puts that kind of image into your head.
And I think Fitzpatrick's signature in her books is all the fantastic varying family dynamics. Everyone had a different way of looking at Em - who was totally adorable, by the way. (I unfortunately only find fictional children adorable.) So was his crab. And I loved the relationship Cass and Em had, too. His patience while teaching Em to swim, his absolute acceptance of the way Em was. And then you had Em and Gwen's dad - not on the total other end of the spectrum, but not that far off, either. Some of those conversations might have left a bitter taste in my mouth, but it supports an incredibly three dimensional cast of characters.
And I loved Gwen's relationship with her cousin Nico, too. Nico's fierce need and pursuit of the title of swim team captain was an interesting touch, and it even made me a little envious because I don't really think I've ever had that kind of dedication for anything, probably.
The thing is, all the relationships in this book are messy. Gwen loves her brother but realizes that while everyone moves on, she's probably going to be the one left behind, constantly caring for him. Viv and Nic's relationship isn't as picture perfect as it seems. Gwen and Cass have their history. There's sometimes an us vs. them mentality between the rich and the island kids. And it's perfect, because it's so real without being forceful. If that makes sense?
And I did enjoy Gwen and Cass's relationship. Cass certainly earned his fair share of swooning, and I basically wanted to lock both of them in a room so they could hash out their issues and then make out for a few hours. Fitzpatrick certainly knows how to keep me hooked.
Overall: Though not as personally heartwarming and lovable as My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick's second novel still had a ton of great and realistic things. I was still eagerly turning pages, and THIS SETTING. IT WAS GORGEOUS and so well done. 4 stars.