A mostly Young Adult book review blog run by a mother and daughter team.
I’ve been interested in author Janet Gurtler’s novels ever since reading her novel How I Lose You. It was a heartbreaking story that caught my interest immediately and The Truth About Uswas no different. It sounded unlike anything I’d had the opportunity to read before. A novel that deals with a good girl gone bad who is still secretly good on the inside? A boy who sees through the guise? A story dealing with who we present ourselves to be versus who we really are underneath it all? The Truth About Us totally sounded like my cup of tea.
Jess knows that what happened with her ‘best friend’ Nance was a complete and total mistake. A couple of foolish teenage shenanigans resulted in her father finally putting his foot down on her rebellious ways. Being forced to volunteer at a soup kitchen, Jess meets Flynn. Immediately the party girl persona that Jess has built up for herself is washed away by Flynn and the new friends she makes at the kitchen. Everything about Flynn tells her to stay away from him. They come from two separate worlds. Jess lives a life of lavish where Flynn and his family can barely get by. However despite their differences, Flynn and Jess are more similar than either of them know. Together, the two of them soon realize that there’s a pull between them, and that they need each other more than they realize.
The premise of The Truth About Us was intriguing and reeled me in. We’re first introduced to the novel with Jess’s party girl lifestyle. We witness the big mistake she’s made that has forced her father to have her ‘volunteer’ at the soup kitchen and watch as Jess’s life comes falling down around her. The Truth About Uspresents a main character to readers who is falling apart inside and whose relationship with the people around her helps pull her back together. While the romance between Flynn and Jess is one of the driving forces behind that re-connection with Jess’s true self, the power of friendship and discovering who she really is and who she wants to be also play a key role in her reconciliation with herself.
Gurtler’s writing is still smooth and easy to read. Her simplistic prose keeps the storyline flowing and holds the reader’s attention. The characterization is unique and enjoyable. One of my favorite characters in the story was the elderly man Wilf who is still mourning the loss of his wife Rhea. Wilf is the sweetest character ever and he absolutely broke my heart. He’s this little old man who offers wisdom and eye-opening advice to Flynn and Jess. Not to mention the story of how he met Rhea is one that made my heart swell up and will stick with me long after having finished the novel (seriously, it’s just too cute).
The only con I would say that there was to the novel would be the instances where some of Jess’s internal thoughts weren’t as ‘teenager-y’ as they were intended to sound. Those instances would leave me placing the book down and kind of take a minute to pause before going back to the storyline. It isn’t a major thing that should deter readers but was the one little detail that scratched at me time and time again.
Readers who are fans of contemporary YA and readers who are big fans of YA romance will love The Truth About Us. Readers who have read Gurtler’s novels in the past and who enjoyed them will definitely enjoy The Truth About Us.Anyone who is looking for a novel with characters whose internal struggles are ‘deep’ and whose characterization holds a sense of humbling realism should also give The Truth About Us a go.