Review/Interview: 16 Things I Thought Were True – Janet Gurtler

I was lucky enough to get to review this book and interview Janet Gurtler for the blog tour for 16 Things I Thought Were True. After the review please check out my question and answer section with Janet. I want to thank her for the time she took to answer my questions and to share a little bit more about her process and thoughts with all of you ABCers. I really hope you pick this book up and enjoy it. Or really anything by Janet for that matter(PSSST, I’m Not Her is still my favorite book of hers. ;-)) Okay, on to the review and interview.

Review/Interview: 16 Things I Thought Were True – Janet GurtlerSixteen Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
Published by Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Published: 2014
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three-half-stars

Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty sweet...in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

thoughts

I always get excited when I see a new book from Janet Gurtler and 16 Things I Thought Were True was no different. The concept seemed somewhat unique but with a familiarity. And who doesn’t love a good road trip. But as much as I enjoyed this book there were things/parts that just didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I was so in love with I’m Not Her and nothing will live up to that level, or if it was how some things were dealt with. Either way, I liked this book, didn’t love it.

16 Things I Thought Were True is about Morgan, an 18 year old girl that made a silly mistake and is dealing with the repercussions from it. She’s working for the summer and trying to forget her humiliation, which isn’t easy. And when her mom suddenly has heart troubles she is left wondering what would happen to her if something were to happen to her mom as she never knew even the name of her dad. But when her mom tells her her dad’s name and that he lives only 4 hours, Morgan knows one thing. She needs to meet the man that abandoned her before she was born. Armed with a boat load of snacks, a cooler full of drinks, her hot 18 year old boss Adam, and chatty, unexpected friend Amy behind the wheel, Morgan is in for a trip she never expected and for some surprises along the way. Sometimes what you thought was true just isn’t.

I had some issues with Morgan at times while reading this book. I’m not 100% sure what it was! but she irked me with her poor me attitude. She definitely wasn’t an optimist by any stretch of the imagination. And I also found her harsh with her friends sometimes. She was definitely wrapped up in her own world which I got to an extent, but enough was enough. I did like Morgan with both her brother Jake and Adam. Adam may be one of the sweetest boys in YA lit. He was, simply put, amazing. And I liked him from the start. There was a complete ease to him that lightened things up. And I loved Morgan and her friendship with Amy. Oh, how much I loved Amy. She was bubbly and charming and endearing and spoke her mind. She talked too much, butted her nose into other people’s business and was slightly spoiled. But she also went with the punches. She took things as they happened and wasn’t afraid to be who she was. She also was fiercely loyal almost to a fault.

I guess one of the reasons this book was a 3 3/4 stars was the way things were dealt with in terms of Morgan’s father. I have very very very strong opinions when it comes to fathers and their place in the lives of their children and I didn’t like how this was handled. I understand the drama as there has to be some in a book to keep an air of mystery and tension, but how it played out in 16 Things I Thought Were True just didn’t work for me. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give anything away, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and could have been handled in a different manner. And the end? Um yeah, so didn’t see that coming at all which kind of threw me for a loop which was both positive and negative. It happened so close to the end of the book that it was hard to process and understand how it all fit together and the purpose of it all. It threw me for a loop which is hard to do sometimes so that was the bonus to it because I 100% didn’t see it coming.

Essentially 16 Things I Thought Were True is another strong book by Gurtler. It had it’s string points and its not so strong points. It had a good message and a message I wasn’t a fan of. But in true Gurtler fashion it told an emotional story with characters that made you feel. I definitely am looking forward to what she has in store for us next.

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INTERVIEW

1) This is your 5th Young Adult book to come out since 2011. That is a lot of books in a short period of time. Each book has been pretty unique in its subject matter so where do you get your ideas from? What is you inspiration?

Janet: I actually cheated because one of my books, IF I TELL was already written when the first book came out.  That said, I have written a lot and it’s been so AWESOME. I get my inspiration from writing about things that matter to me.  My books always start with the characters except WHO I KISSED that was inspired by my son and his peanut allergy.   I try and write characters who are flawed because I think we all do some bad things, but that doesn’t necessarily make us bad people. I mean like stealing a pen from work, not murdering your husband bad.

I am by nature, a realist and I think that comes across in what I write.  Also, I think in my head I am a 16 year old girl, so it’s alarmingly easy for me to slip into that mindset.

2) In 16 Things I Thought Were True Morgan has a life changing event happen which is why she goes off to meet her father, Bob, for the first time. Morgan and Bob understandably have a complex relationship. Do you think you would react the same way that Morgan did in regards to finding her dad and everything that came after?

JG: I think Morgan was aching to have another person in her life.  She was trying to think she didn’t need other people but the near death of her mom made her realize how very alone she was, outside of the online relationships in her life. I think that a situation like Morgan’s and her dad’s would take a long time to work through. I relate to Morgan’s experience of wanting more from her dad, but not being sure how to ask for it or if she can even handle it. 

3) The end of 16 Things took an unexpected turn, at least for me anyway. Without giving anything away, what made you go in that direction? Was it hard to make that kind of decision?

JG: I had an epiphany one day. I was working on the story and all of sudden it was…. THAT THING HAS TO HAPPEN.  I tried to layer in hints along the way, subtle hints, and they are there if you look for them, but yes I think it does come as a shock for many. To me it needed to happen. It was part of Morgan’s story, that things sometimes happen that don’t make a lot of sense.  And you have to deal. 

4) Morgan, Adam and Amy(who I loved by the way!) go on a quick weekend road trip. If you could go to any 3 places in the US on a road trip, where would you go and why?

JG: I love Amy too. She was fun to write. I had to actually dial her back a bit because she kept trying to take over the story.  Honestly  I’d really like to go to most places in the USA on a plane because I honestly have driven to every province in Canada on road trips in my lifetime. And that’s a lot of land. Having said that I would choose:

Arizona.  It is WARM. There are pretty rocks. I like warmth and pretty rocks.

Texas:   Long road trip but it would be great. There are so many writers there, who, like Morgan I know on-line but have never met in person.

Vegas: It’s not that far from where I live. Relatively speaking. And it’s VEGAS.

5) Since the title is about things you thought were true, what is one thing you thought was true when you were Morgan’s age but found out when you were older it wasn’t?

JG: I thought I would never get married. Actually I kind of thought I’d never have a boy like me or ever have sex.  Turns out I was wrong.  😉

6) Totally not going to lie, reading this book made me eat a whole bag of Cheetos just by the power of suggestion. Have you ever craved a snack food from writing one of your books or reading someone else’s book?

JG: MMMmm. Cheeto’s. Lucky for me, salty snacks aren’t my weakness. Unlucky for me, chocolate and sweets are.  I crave them all the time.  Just answering this question has made me thinking about the bag of chocolate chips that area in my pantry.  (sneaks off to have a handful)

7) And since I also blog about clothes and accessories and this book contains a road trip, what is the one item of clothing or accessory that you would never travel without? Basics aside of course. 🙂

JG: Yoga pants. All the better for eating snacks and not having to worry about bloating. And bracelets. I love wearing lots of bracelets.

 

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Second Chance Sunday – I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler

Second Chance Sunday – I’m Not Her by Janet GurtlerI'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Published: 2011
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four-stars

"For the first time in my life, I didn't feel envy..." Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that's okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. But, the smiles of her picture perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn't hold it together, who will? Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor.

Review
Okay, I’m going to admit to the thing you should never admit to. I waited to read this book because of the cover. I know right? I did the cliche thing and judged a book by its cover. Well shame on me because I’m Not Her was a story that should be read immediately and should be read often. The cover says nothing about the amazingness in the pages and the heartbreaking story of a family having to deal with something no family should have to be put through. This book made me smile and cry and smile again.

I’m Not Her is about Tess, an invisible freshman to her uber popular big sister Kristina. Kristina is everything Tess isn’t. She’s popular, she’s the start of the volleyball team, she’s lusted after by boys. She is the all around package. Tess on the other hand is an artist, has one friend, and wants to be in the National Honor Society. Kristina seems to have it all and then the unthinkable happens; she is diagnosed with cancer and Tess’s world does a complete 180. All of a sudden she is no longer invisible. The popular kids want to be around her. She is invited to parties. She has “friends”. And while things look to looking up at school, everything Tess knows is falling apart. Her family is hanging on by a thread, her sister is deteriorating right in front of her eyes and all of Tess’s dreams are vanishing with every trip to the hospital. All Tess wants is for her sister to get well and things to go back to normal. She wants people to realize she isn’t her sister and has her own dreams.

Can I just tell you Tess really got to me! She was by far the strongest person in this book. She was the only one that was holding her family together. I mean I can’t imagine what a parent would feel if they found out their seemingly perfectly healthy daughter had cancer, but Tess and Kristina’s parents just completely checked out. They didn’t check out on Kristina per say. They took her to her appointments and were by her side, but they weren’t really there. They ignored Tess except when they needed her and never listened to anything Tess, Kristina or even the doctors were saying. Tess was the only one that was emotionally supportive to her sister and it wasn’t in a way that was in your face. Actually it seemed to Tess that she couldn’t do anything right where Kristina was concerned, but I got the complete opposite out of it because Tess was the one that Kristina trusted. She was the one that she leaned on and unleashed her anger. She relied on her sister and Tess was there every step of the way, her dream be damned.

This book was really a powerful and moving story about family relationships and what happens when the unthinkable is brought in. It’s a story of loss and strength and survival. It isn’t a story about cancer, but a story about dealing with cancer and how it effects the lives of the people that don’t have it. It is a book that I’m glad I read and won’t soon forget.

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