Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Sometimes the person who's most different from you is the one who makes you feel like you belong. When Jess is caught drinking and inappropriately face-timing boys, her dad orders her to spend the rest of the summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.Thrust into a world where her own problems no longer seem so insurmountable, Jess meets Flynn, a guy from her high school who comes to the soup kitchen for meals with his adorable little brother. Slowly, Jess and Flynn begin to know and trust each other, despite their different backgrounds and the prejudice of their families. But as their relationship intensifies and outside pressures escalate, can they find the strength to stay together?
MY TAKE:
The rich-girl-poor-boy trope is one of my favorites, so I figured I might enjoy this book.

In The Truth About Us, Jess is a rich girl who has been drinking and acting out in order to cope with a messy home life. When her father finds out, she gets sent to volunteer at a shelter. There, she becomes good friends with some of the employees, as well as a guy who she ends up falling in love with. However, Flynn is not rich like her, and others around them think that this could be a problem for both of them.

While a lot of the plot points are things I've seen before, I still more or less enjoyed the book. The friendships that Jess developed with Wilf and Kyle made me smile. The interactions seemed genuine and felt organic to the story.

The whole thing with Jess and her first best friend, as well as with Nance and Jennifer, was a good call, in the sense that it was able to show that Jess didn't really mean to be a party girl and that wasn't who she was and wasn't what she'll be forever.

Jess' family drama wasn't entirely unexpected, but I didn't really like how Jess initially approached it. She wasn't very empathic and thought only in terms of how her family's behavior affected her and didn't really think why they acted that way or how they felt.

Jess reminded me of a smarter Cher Horowitz. She's privileged, optimistic and naive. It was a little disturbing, though, to see some of her thoughts on the poverty at the shelter, and later at Flynn's house, although she didn't think of it in a mean way. I forget sometimes that some people in first-world countries have never even imagined the kind of poverty that can exist in the rest of the world, or even in their own country. Perhaps that's why I never truly warmed up to Jess, although I didn't really feel angry or annoyed at her.

Flynn seems like a good guy, and he was exactly what I hoped to see in this kind of story. However, my favorite characters weren't Flynn or Jess. I really liked Wilf and Penny. Wilf is a cranky grandfather-type of man, but he's a lovely soul. Penny, on the other hand, seems like a very good friend and there was just something about her I instantly liked.

Despite being meh about Jess, I quite liked her and Flynn's romance. Usually, when I'm not completely sold on a character, I end up disliking the romance too. Here, though, I still wanted them to end up together. I didn't think the last blow-up between them was necessary, though, since there were already so many things that happened to keep them apart.

THE GOOD:

  1. Jess and Flynn make their romance trope work.
  2. Wilf and Penny are great supporting characters.
  3. There's an effort not to make the romance the center of the story. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the plot twists are predictable. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Well, let's say in your day, I think rainbows were in black and white." 
READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of stories about a rich girl and a poor boy.
  2. You like stories that have something about families, friendships and relationships.
  3. You like strong supporting characters.

RATING:
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