What I Though Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Electric Monkey
Format: ARC e-book
Note: This book was given to us by the publisher in exchange for our honest review.
I read My Life Next Door in 2014 and wasn’t blow away because I’d heard a lot of over-hyped reviews. With What I Though Was True there seemed to be a lot more mixed reviews, so I felt a lot more prepared. I was pumped to be reading something contemporary with lots of summery feelings, and I wanted to give Huntley Fitzpatrick a second chance. The first half was SO GOOD but the second half, well…
P L O T
Gwen has lived on Seashell island all her life and, this summer, she gets a job as a companion for a rich old lady. Cassidy Somers happens to be working as the yard boy and the two of them have a mysterious past. There’s a lot of sub-plot to the main romance including financial troubles for everyone, a romance between Gwen’s cousin Nic and her best friend Vivie, swimming lessons for her not-autistic-but-unclassified-disabled brother.
To a certain extent, there was too much going on! And most importantly the story was too long and could’ve been wrapped up a lot sooner. What I Though Was True deals with a lot of miscommunication, and in the beginning it’s mysterious and enticing, but by the end it’s a no from me.
C H A R A C T E R S
Gwen – she had a lot of personal development. She needed to come to terms with who she was and that took a long time. She’s the kind of girl who seems super confident but also puts herself down a lot. She’s got a pretty complicated home life: money’s tight, her parents are divorced and she has to take care of her brother. At school she has a reputation for being ‘easy’ and she’s not sure how she feels about that.
Cass – Is he different from any contemporary romantic interest I’ve read before? No. He’s good at sports, but failing his English Lit class – guess who has to tutor him(!)- and his family have put a lot of pressure on him to do well.
There are a whole bunch of secondary characters in this book, but I wouldn’t say they felt like anything more than secondary.
R O M A N C E
A lot of the tension in WITWT was built up from Gwen and Cassidy’s backstory, which the reader doesn’t get to learn until around 60% through. By then I was fed up of waiting. It seemed excessive to drag it out that long. In the beginning I thought it was cute but cute can very easily cross into annoying. There was also this extended thing with Cass ‘rescuing’ Gwen from boiling some lobsters and they kept bringing it up like it was supposed to be poignant but felt kinda lame instead.
Huntely Fitzpatrick seems to have become known for making her book characters have realistic conversations about sex. She doesn’t try to hide the fact that sex is a part of a teenager’s life, which is surprising in a good way. HOWEVER, some of the things Vivien said to Gwen came off as slut-shaming and I wasn’t quite sure what the overall message about sex was suppose to be. I didn’t want Fitzpatrick to get preachy or anything like that, but I was left confused about where her characters stood by the end. Gwen and Cass’s conversations become consumed with clarifying Cass’s intentions and consent, which is obviously important, but it gets to the point where Gwen’s perpetuating the idea that Cass is only trying to get in her pants and it’s like ‘what is happening??!?!’ Do they trust each other or what?
P A C I N G
I really loved the first half of this book. I really enjoyed how Huntley Fitzpatrick set up the summer setting and the character’s motivations – I thought, wow!, this one is actually going to impress me. It was ticking a lot of boxes and really did remind me of Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer, which can never be a bad thing! But the way the internal arcs and external arcs played out meant that once Gwen and Cass had sorted out their communication problems, there was still 20% of the story left, where we were forced to focus on Nic and Vivi, and Mrs. E. Their storylines were uninteresting in comparison, and felt underdeveloped since their dramas were only relevant when Gwen and Cass were out of the way! It would have been better if those issues had been resolved and then Gwen and Cass resolved their problems, because it meant there was a sixteenth-century play style ‘false ending’ and a cheesy epilogue to end on the main characters again. Summary: it felt messy.
V E R D I C T
Because of my frustrations with the ending, I think it’s impossible to give this book anything more than 3 stars. I thought it was going to be a 4 star book and in the end I was disappointed. But this won’t be the last Huntley Fitzpatrick book I read, so I have higher hopes for the next one, as each book she writes is an improvement on the last!