I was a huge fan of My Life Next Door, and I’ve had What I Thought Was True on my to-read shelf ever since I finished it. I’ve walked past it at bookstores a few times, always thinking, next time I’ll buy it. Well, I bought it. And it’s good. And I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.
Gwen Castle, our protagonist, lives on the wrong side of Seashell Island. She spends her summers working for her father at his beachside restaurant, where she waits on the wealthy summer visitors. This summer, though, she’s working as a “companion” for the well off, elderly Mrs. Ellington. Since she’ll be spending her days with Mrs. Ellington and her nights with her friends, this summer will be the perfect time to finally get past the mistakes she made over the last year.
Cassidy Somers is the epitome of everything Gwen wants to forget. A mistake of a night. A boy she thought had feelings for her, then turned around and crushed her heart. Gwen never thought that Cass would be working on the island this summer too – that in order to whip his son into shape, Cass’s father would make him work as the island’s “yard boy,” spending his days tending the lawns of Seashell Island’s rich and lazy.
As much as Gwen tries to avoid Cass, it seems that they’re constantly thrown together. As their time together increases exponentially, she’s forced to re-evaluate her assumptions and misconceptions about their short-lived relationship. Nothing is what it seems.
Just like in My Life Next Door, I appreciated the honest, realistic portrayals of teenagers in What I Thought Was True. Gwen and Cass, and their friends for that matter, are imperfect but lovable characters. Nobody is all good or all bad. Sometimes in YA, the situations are so unrealistic that I can’t imagine any of them happening to a teenager. In My Life Next Door, everything feels like something that happened to me, one of my friends, or one of my classmates in high school. Misunderstandings, heartbreak, and volatile emotions – all presented in a real, refreshing way.
Another thing I really like about Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books is that she deals with teenage sexuality in a sensitive, but, again, realistic way. Gwen slept with a few boys last year that she’d rather forget. She’s getting a bit of a reputation, and she knows it. But while Gwen is upset at the way the boys refer to her, and she regrets some of her sexual partners, she’s never slut-shamed. This kind of message is so important for teenage girls, and I’m glad that Ms. Fitzpatrick is getting it out there.
I had a really hard time putting this book down, and it was a great reminder of how much I love Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books prior to the release of The Boy Most Likely To. If you’re looking for a summer romance with a deeper message, don’t miss this one.