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, 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.
I really loved this book – a lot more than I actually expected to. This was my first Huntley Fitzpatrick novel, even though I’ve owned her debut novel, My Life Next Door, for a while now. I decided to pick up What I Thought Was True first because a companion to My Life Next Door is coming out in mid-August and I wanted to marathon them. But after reading this book, I might have to jump right in to My Life Next Door.
What I Thought Was True is a beautiful summer read about second chances and first love. It also contains strong family elements, which I loved and thought elevated the story really beautifully. At times I even enjoyed the family aspect of it more than the romance. This novel is more of a mature YA contemporary, in terms of the story and themes, as well as the writing. The writing style is quite sophisticated and didn’t sound juvenile at all. It flowed beautifully and I just ate it up. This is definitely a more slow-paced book. A lot of the first half of the book was focused on Gwen’s past and setting up the story so it did take a while for the book to really take off. There isn’t a lot that happens in the book but everything that does happen is heart-warming and emotional. I actually really enjoyed the slower pace of this book and thought it was one of its charms.
Aside from being emotional and hauntingly beautiful, this story also has some hilarious moments. Gwen’s mother is obsessed with romance novels and mentions them around the house all the time. The elderly woman who Gwen works for as a caretaker asks Gwen to read steamy romance novels aloud to her and her group of friends. Hilarity ensues. And Gwen herself was really sarcastic and funny.
Gwen was definitely a great main character. She’s a strong character who stands up for herself and for the people she loves, and I just really admired her strength. Cass, her love interest, was perfect. It’s so great to be able to read about a guy who is just really really nice. He was polite and romantic, and I loved the two of them together. I also liked all of the members of Gwen’s family. They were just such a close and loving family, even though they weren’t by any means perfect. I was so invested in all of the characters and their stories. I felt happy when they were happy and I hurt for them when they were hurt. And I think that’s the mark of a really great author.