Huntley Fitzpatrick: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
Okay, maybe that sounded a bit creepy and weird (and very likely to get me slapped with a restraining order). Maybe I should amend it to, Huntley Fitzpatrick: How do I love thy books?
Because based on the two Huntley Fitzpatrick books I’ve read so far, I LOVE her writing. Bloomin’ heck, this girl can write a book that I just want to get lost in. The humour, the angst, the romance; I just find it all completely spot on.
So: What I Thought Was True is the story of Gwen Castle, a girl who lives on Seashell, an island near to Stony Bay (yeah, we remember Stony Bay). Her family are the people who cater for the tourists: her mum cleans, her dad runs a restaurant and it looks like one or other of these professions will be Gwen’s too when she leaves high school. Her friend Vivie is seeing her cousin Nic and they’ll probably end up living on the island and against a backdrop of family expectations Gwen tries to separate what she thought was true from what actually is.
It’s definitely different from My Life Next Door. Fitzpatrick’s first book was all about the romance narrative (and lawks, what a romance!), whereas What I Thought Was True is more about Gwen trying to figure out her place in the world, how her past is going to define her future and how things don’t always work out the way we planned. Yes, it has a romance angle, but it concentrates more on Gwen’s internal musings rather than snogging (although there’s plenty of snogging too).
When Gwen discovers that her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cass Somers, has got a job as a yard boy on the island and he’ll be working close to her all summer, she tries her best to avoid him. Does Gwen actually manage to avoid Cass, or do we think they end up kissing? Well, what do you think?
You get a lot of back story about what happened between Gwen and Cass, as well as seeing how they try to work things out between them and figure out where they’re going as people. There are a lot of flashbacks and memories, which totally fits in with the slightly introspective feel of the book and the plot is a lot less linear than other contemporary YA, but it still works well.
I loved Gwen - she was a perfect balance of confused and confident. She had enough tenacity and wit to stand up for herself and she was sexually confident - yes please, we need more of this in YA lit, along with Fitzpatrick’s spotlighting of the horrific double standards that boys and girls are subject to in this regard.
Yeah, I really enjoyed this book. It’s going to be a couple of months before I can read The Boy Most Likely To, but I’ve got high hopes for it (no pressure, Ms Fitzpatrick).
I received a copy of What I Thought Was True in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Egmont and Netgalley.