Review | What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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.

3.5 cupcakes
What I Thought Was True was quite different from My Life Next Door (which I absolutely adored!). Instead of being plot driven and filled with sweet romance, What I Thought Was True is much slower-paced and introspective. It relies on flashbacks and dialogue more than action, making it a bit hard to get into at first. The many references to “that summer” and deliberate withholding of information from the reader was quite off-putting for a contemporary novel, and the big reveal wasn’t as shocking as this prolonged build up seemed to warrant.

All that being said, What I Thought Was True was rather refreshing in a lot of ways. It dealt with sex in a positive way, and explored the negative connotations that society associates with female sexuality. All of the relationships were intricately designed, and family, friendships, and romantic relationships were given equal importance. I loved how healthy the romantic relationship was: there were open and honest discussions about its pace and where it was headed, and both parties respected one another’s boundaries.

Overall, What I Thought Was True touched on a lot of important topics, but its length and pacing issues made it difficult to fully enjoy.

Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

My Rating:  4 cupcakes

Not even halfway through My Life Next Door, I found myself completely enthralled by the Garrett family. I understood exactly why Samantha spent so much time watching them; they’re the kind of family that I would love to be a part of. They’re loud, fun, affectionate, and completely open with one another. From the parents, who are still visibly in love, to George, who is quite honestly the most adorable child I’ve ever read about, this family is one that I would love to be adopted by. While this family may not have the most money, they are rich in what matters – something that every family could stand to be reminded about.

The relationship between Samantha and Jase was heartwarming. They truly adored one another, and were completely at ease with each other. Even their sex scenes were handled perfectly, capturing the awkwardness (and awesomeness) of first love in a completely realistic manner.

One character that I was surprised to like as much as I did was Tim. The amount of character development that he underwent was incredible, especially given the difficulty associated with quitting drug and alcohol use.

The only aspect of the story that I disliked was the darker twist that the end of the novel took. It was entirely unexpected, which was fine, but everything was resolved far too quickly for my liking.

Overall, My Life Next Door was a wonderfully-written contemporary novel. Although I didn’t enjoy the new direction that the ending took, it was a sweet, honest portrayal of first love and the importance of family.