What I Thought Was True

Common Sense Media says

Sentimental romance perfect for teen summer beach reading.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Some good vocabulary words, such as "redolent." Gwen's grandfather speaks to her in Portuguese, so readers might pick up a few words. Also, the author will get teens thinking about class issues and how they exist in their own communities. Is there a division between upper class and lower class like there is on Gwen's island? How does money affect what opportunities and expectations a person has?

Positive messages

Strong messages about the importance of being brave and honest and talking out problems, as well as being open-minded. Gwen knows "that what you've always had doesn't mean that's what you'll always get. [And] that what you've always wanted isn't what you'll always want."

Positive role models

Gwen doesn't always make the best choices, but she's a loyal friend, cousin and big sister. And eventually she learns to be honest and trusting with Cass as they begin to build a relationship on more than just attraction. 

Violence

A mentally challenged boy falls in the water and has to be saved. There's a fistfight between two boys. 

Sex

Gwen hooks up with several boys and has sex with Cass in her car, and later with another boy while drinking at a party. Her father catches her hooking up with one boy on the sand. Her cousin and best friend also are having sex and are very openly physically affectionate. Gwen's parents got married as teens after they found out she was on the way. There's talk of birth control, including condoms and the Pill, and eventually Gwen decides she "would so much be with someone who cared what he was doing than someone who knew what he doing." 

Language

A few uses of strong language, including "s--t," "f--king," and "ass."

Consumerism

The author mentions products such as Bronco, Coke, Cap’n Crunch, Lean Cuisine, and BMW.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink alcohol at parties on the beach and at their parents' homes. Gwen even has sex with a boy after they've both been drinking. Her grandfather smokes a pipe, and another teen smokes cigarettes, which her cousin also tries. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that What I Thought Was True is a summer romance that features some sexual content: Gwen hooks up with several boys and has sex with Cass in her car, and with another boy after drinking at a party. Her father catches her hooking up with a boy on the sand. Her cousin and best friend also are having sex and are also very openly physically affectionate. Gwen's own parents got married as teens after they found out she was on the way. There's talk of birth control, including condoms and the Pill. Gwen eventually she learns to be honest and trusting with Cass as they begin to build a relationship on more than just attraction. She also decides she "would so much be with someone who cared what he was doing than someone who knew what he doing." Teens drink alcohol at parties on the beach and at their parents' homes. In addition, her grandfather smokes a pipe, and another teen smokes cigarettes, which her cousin also tries. There are a few uses of strong language, including "s--t," "f--king," and "a--."

What's the story?

Gwen knows she has a reputation after hooking up with several different boys, including rich, handsome Cass, whom she thinks used her to lose his virginity. When he takes a menial labor job on her tiny island community for the summer -- arranged by the father he disappointed by getting kicked out his prep school -- she can't help but see him everywhere. And while she worries that he is only interested in her as "a means to an end," it gets harder and harder to deny that there is a serious spark between them.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE is pretty perfect summer reading. There's both funny banter between likable Gwen and Cass, and some sigh-worthy romantic moments, such as when they get stuck together in a boathouse during a thunderstorm. Some of the writing can be overly sentimental (Gwen's cousin collects skipping stones for his serious girlfriend, a reminder of their first kiss, which he got by asking her for one kiss for each time stone skipped on the water). But readers who like being swept away by poetic writing and sweet scenes will enjoy swooning through the pages here.

The author also pushes readers to think about class, and what kind of opportunities and expectations exist on each side of the causeway that separates Gwen's Seashell Island and Cass' Stony Bay. She also manages to avoid stereotyping rich kids as soul-less and poor kids as pure. Instead, characters on each side are realistically flawed and, for the most part, relatable. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about summer beach books. What do you look for when you get to read non-assigned books?

  • Here, Gwen is working class and Cass is wealthy: How does their story compare with other romantic books and movies featuring characters from different economic classes? 

  • Who do you think goes through the most change by the end of this book? Who do you think will get the happiest ending?

Book details

Author:Huntley Fitzpatrick
Genre:Romance
Topics:Friendship, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:April 15, 2014
Number of pages:416
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 18
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of What I Thought Was True was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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