What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

DIAL BOOKS | Hardcover, 407 pages
April 15th, 2014
Young Adult | Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

“That we’re like picnic baskets. Useful, even kind of nice to have when it’s hot and you’re hungry. But who wants a picnic when summer’s over?” – Chapter 22, page 238

That sentiment is pretty much why I’m wary of reading summer romances; it’s the inevitability of an ending, the distance and the work involved in keeping the relationship going once the summer is over. While there was an ambiguous implication to what the future holds for these kids, there’s an obstacle that was equally challenging. It’s the old story of rich boy and poor girl; her uncertain future against his destined lot in life. Their places in the society, and the unspoken taboo that they’re not supposed to be together.

Gwen Castle has lived on the island all her life; borne out of a poor family, all she’s ever known is the need to work and help out. Cassidy Somers is the boy across the bridge from a wealthy family; while their paths wouldn’t normally cross, they’ve known each other long enough to be in each other’s periphery. But something happened between them in the Spring; something that Gwen hasn’t really told anyone. She knows she would work hard to keep out of his way, but when she finds out he’s taken the job as the island’s yard boy as punishment from his father, her world just got smaller.

Much of the not-so-good reviews for this book conveyed of a disappointment with the revelation of Gwen and Cass’ past. Some say, the author made a mountain of a molehill. I would like to disagree. I’m faced with a problem of whether or not I should divulge. It’s hard to dispute this because it is a major component in the plot, and would essentially be a huge spoiler for those who hasn’t read it yet. Just know that I understand why Gwen reacted the way she did, and can see why she hid that secret. I’d imagined I would’ve done the same myself; especially if Cass has been that unattainable guy that I’ve coveted all my young life. I think her issue stems more from embarrassment than anything. Especially when she’s trying to dispel a notorious reputation. Because of her tendency to make bad decisions in the past, and the overall outlook for girls like her in their small community, she was trying to break out of a mould.

Ms. Fitzpatrick has a propensity for realism; and it’s even more pronounced in this book. Gwen’s life exhausted me; she worked tirelessly, and without complaints. The love and care she has for her family – especially to her younger brother was so precious. The author also has a gift for portraying a closely-knitted family, which is something of a novelty in this genre. Gwen’s is definitely not nuclear, but it’s wonderful just the same. Is it also weird that I want to say there is something sexy about these kids? Am I allowed to say that? Because, really, Gwen and Cass has that sensuality about them.

There are secondary characters here that enriched this novel; some of them quirky, some frustrated me, and some of them made this story even more incredible.

What I Thought was True is a story about two people who wanted to break free from expectations. It is also about family, and how people would come and go in your life, but they’re the ones who will stick by your side. Ms. Fitzpatrick knows how to build a romance from the rubble of a shady past; awkward at first, honest in general, and sweet nonetheless.

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