Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
Release Date - April 7, 2015
Publisher Website - Raincoat Books/Sourcebooks Fire
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I'm Not Her that's "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult."-Booklist

The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. 
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.
There's a saying about not judging a book by it's cover. The same can be applied to people. You shouldn't judge by what you see on the outside. Janet Gurtler's newest novel looks at prejudices, obstacles, privilege and how snap judgements are often wrong.

This was my first experience with a Janet Gurtler novel. I was expecting something light and fun. Instead I got a novel that was deeper than I had been expecting. She tackles some complex issues in this novel, and it was a more gritty read than I had expected.

We get to see both side of prejudice in this novel. We see how it's thought that the rich don't have any problems, and that life for them must be perfect. For Jess that is anything but the truth. Her world is falling apart and her family is anything but functional. Her parents are both a mess, and her sister is largely absent because she's running from the truth about their family. She may have privilege but she still has problems. The flip side is also examined. The novel looks at the typical prejudices about those who are less fortunate. The notion of them bringing it on themselves, that they are trouble, and that there must be something wrong with them. Thorough Jess's growth we see that many of them are people going through tough times, and that it comes down to unfortunate circumstances. It doesn't mean the person isn't worth knowing or not a good, decent person. No more than being rich automatically makes you a good person. The novel showcases how both stereotypes are detrimental, and that the first steps of overcoming them is education and patience. We cannot understand what we don't know, so understanding is vital to change.

Jess's character journey and her development is the element of the novel I appreciated the most. She grows and learns a lot about herself as a result of the events that transpire. Seeing her go from an entitled, self destructive girl to who she is at the end was such as satisfying reading experience. Her time at the soup kitchen and the friendships she builds there are the heart of the story. In particular, her friendship with Wilf, an elderly volunteer at the soup kitchen, is heart warming. Their bond is one that I felt was developed and did work it's way into my heart.

I think the biggest issue I had was actually with the romance. Part of it, for me at least, was that we skip over the 'get to know' you parts of the romance. We never see them fall for each other, so that connection didn't seem as developed to me.  As characters they were engaging and fleshed out but the connections between them didn't come across the same way. I never fully invested in them together, and therefore the outcome wasn't as critical for me. I wasn't riveted by that aspect and didn't feel compelled.

This novel surprised me with it's look at stereotypes, prejudice, and good that can come out of taking those first steps to overcoming them, and opening yourself up to change. While I, sadly, didn't connect with the characters I think this book has an important message about judging others before you know them.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog!!!


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