What I Thought Was True by Huntley FitzpatrickHuntley Fitzpatrick is definitely one of my favorite authors. I have adored everything she's written. However, there has always been something about What I Thought Was True that stood out as my most favorite. As a girl who has a yearning for stories set at the beach, especially during the summertime, it's no wonder that Fitzpatrick speaks directly to my heart. And oh how THIS story not once, but twice now, spoke directly to my literary soul.
Published: April 15, 2014 by Dial Books for Young Readers
First Read: April 2014
About the book: 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. [goodreads]
Can we just talk about the setting for a minute? I've never experienced a New England summer on the beach, but it's definitely on my travel bucket list. This story in particular magnifies that yearning to the highest level. There's something magical in the way that Fitzpatrick describes the scenery, creating such an enriching place as if you can feel the clamshells beneath your feet and smell the salty air wafting by. Even though its a fictional place, I can clearly picture Seashell Island and feel its natural beauty as if it's a place I've grown up in myself.
Now for the story. Gwen is one of my favorite heroines. I adore her strength and determination. Her feminism shines through, even when she's uncertain of the outcome. She's the type of young girl who knows where she comes from, is proud of it in fact, but is also not afraid to test the waters beyond. The journey she takes is both endearing and romantic. And oh, let's discuss that romance. Cassidy Somers is every bit lovable and charming. I adored his boyish ways and the attraction he has for Gwen. It was both sweet and swoon-worthy. The way they must navigate their relationship, among the push and pull of social classes is entertaining, but also believable. I could not get enough of their moments together.
Huntley Fitzpatrick is known for her way of writing families into stories that could stand on their own, but also completes an already enriching tale. Each of those characters hold their own weight, while also adding just the right amount of depth to an already rich storyline. Gwen's family is so lively and chaotic; their devotion and love for one another, no matter how non-nuclear they may be, is so inviting. It felt like coming home re-reading their stories once again.
Overall I love the message of this story and I felt it burn just a little bit deeper this second time around. Discovering your own identity is important, and it's okay if you find yourself jumping off that pier to uncover it. It's also okay if you choose to stay on shore and wade through the waters, unearthing yourself slowly but surely. I might have to make a tradition of re-reading this novel every summer.