Wednesday 27 April 2016

What I Thought Was True, Huntley Fitzpatrick

Pages: 407
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: 15th April 2014
Edition: US hardback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: My Life Next Door, The Boy Most Likely To

“Heaven by the water.”
“Best-kept little secret in new England.”
Seashell Island, where I’ve lived all my life, is those things and more.
And all I want to do is leave it behind.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Sommers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge, and she hails from a family of housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries this will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape what happened – or the island – her past explodes into her present, redefining the boundaries of her life. 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.

From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a push-you-pull-you romance, full of expectation and regret, humour and hard questions.

My Life Next Door is one of my favourite books and I was expecting the same kind of intoxicating summer romance from What I Thought Was True, but I didn’t completely get one. I did still it enjoy it though!

Within pages of starting this book I was entranced by the setting. The small New England island is a haven for rich people wanting to spend their summer on the beach, while the islanders work year round to cater for them. It has that delicious small, American beach town feel that suckers me every. single. time. I just can't get enough of it! It was super interesting to see the disparity between the islanders and the visitors, and sometimes extremely uncomfortable in the way the islanders were treated – as servants, as lesser.

But I didn’t find the characters as lovable as the setting, sadly. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, even though I liked them. Gwen is tangled and flawed in the best ways, but still did get on my nerves a little, unfortunately. A lot of the discussion around Gwen is about her sexuality. She's earned a bit of reputation and is reminded about it a lot, and yet she’s not ashamed of it unless someone makes her feel that way. It was very sex positive in that way and I was really pleased with the discussion it brought up.

Like in My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick tackles lots of issues outside of the summer romance with subtlety and sensitivity. Gwen’s family are poor, sharing two bedrooms between the five of them in the house, constantly struggling with money; the pressure on Cass to follow the Ivy league path that his parents did; first love not always turning out to be forever love; and the lifetime of responsibility that Gwen’s little brother, Emory, will mean for the whole family, all play a part in the novel. It’s very rich in depth (if you know what I mean), but it never drags on those subjects at all.

What I Thought Was True didn’t live up to my expectations, but I did still enjoy it and I’m very much looking forward to finally getting stuck into The Boy Most Likely To.


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