What I Thought was True is a beautifully written book about first love and finding out who you are meant to be.
Guinevere Castle lives on Seashell Island, a popular location for the wealthy to spend their summers. The members of her family work various jobs supporting these island visitors, but Gwen doesn’t want to follow in their footsteps. She longs to get off the island, especially now that her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is working on the island for the season. But this summer more than ever, Gwen can’t seem to get away from him. Memories that Gwen tried so hard to bury resurface as she struggles to comprehend how what she thought was true compares to what really is.
The story doesn’t just focus on Cass and Gwen’s past misunderstandings. It focuses on their families, financial issues, friendships, and jobs, as well as poses many questions concerning morals. Gwen’s family struggles to pay the bills, and there come times when Gwen is urged to take something from the rich island visitors. She has to decide whether the temptation of getting off the island is great enough to cause her to steal from a kind elderly lady, and what she chooses depends on who she wants to be.
Gwen has suffered from bad relationships in the past, and the results are obvious. She has issues trusting people, especially Cass. Each time they get close to each other, she pushes him away. The author does a good job inserting suspicion into the story at the perfect times. It’s very hard to tell when Cass is being sincere, since he has betrayed Gwen before. His character is just so polite and innocent seeming, though, and he is easy to trust. Because of this, each time he does something to make that trust falter, the readers are very affected due to how much they are invested in the story.
I’ll admit, Cass and Gwen’s relationship got a little frustrating at times. They could never fully trust each other, and they would go back and forth between being interested in each other and being guarded and defensive. Typically this kind of behavior could’ve been a reason I would put a book down, but I thought the author did an amazing job with the amount of arguing/relationship issues present. There wasn’t too little to the point of it being boring, but there wasn’t so much that their relationship was petty or trivial.
The author did a great job with the authenticity of the characters, especially with Gwen’s younger brother, Emory. Em isn’t quite normal, but he isn’t quite autistic. He has a lot of quirks that make him unique, and his character adds extra details to the story that help make it not completely romantically centered. He’s so lovable, you can’t help but mentally adopt him. For those reasons, I’d have to make him one of my favorite characters.
One character I could really relate to was Nic. He sets goals and has specific plans for what he wants his future to look like. The problem is that he gets so obsessed with achieving these goals that he neglects to focus on what is happening currently until the moments have already passed. His character is extremely focused on the future, but rarely does he stop and think about what he already has and what he has to lose until it is too late.
Though he played a smaller role in the book, Spence Channing was also an interesting character. On the outside, he was a jerk who hardly cared for anyone but himself. Later on, however, Spence develops another side to his personality, one that allows him to actually have feelings for someone despite his “player” reputation. He has his own issues, too, that cause him to behave in ways that have a potential of hurting others.
The book was a little long, in my opinion, but the length aided the storytelling in the amount of time spent with the characters. Within that time, you could grow as the characters do, and get close enough to them to truly feel their struggles alongside them.