Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
The Truth About Us
by Janet Gurtler
April 7, 2015
304 pages

Goodreads Summary:
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.


From the synopsis, The Truth About Us sounded like a plain love story to me. I was happy it wasn't though. Sure it had its warm and tingling moments but there were also moments where I wanted to yell at some of the characters and moments where I wanted to kick a particular character in the shin really hard. All of these reactions came from the various relationship dynamics explored and they were what I loved best about this book.

Jess has a very strained relationship with her family right from the beginning. It's no secret something horrible happened to her mother and ever since then, her family, as a whole, hasn't been the same. Instead of talking it out, they all chose to close up as her father's often away on business trips, her sister frequently stays over at her boyfriend's house and her mother spends more time in bed than out of it. Jess starts to make bad decisions because of how alone and bottled up she felt.

The most obvious bad relationship she had was with Nance, her so-called best friend. Since she carelessly ruined her friendship with her real best friend Penny, she started hanging out with Nance who doesn't exactly have the best influence on her. Nance has her own share of family problems. They party, drink and do childish things together.

Her relationship with herself was also a bad one. An ignorant one. She accepted a ride from strangers not caring much about the danger. "That sometimes I'm so caught up in pretending to be someone else that I don't feel anything at all. And that's why I test myself. To see if I'm still alive." (p. 71). Her mindless ways come to an abrupt halt when her dad sends her to volunteer at the soup kitchen after doing something foolish with Nance (no surprise there).

At New Beginnings (so appropriate named!), good relationships blossomed. She meets Flynn again (they briefly met from said ride from above). They got to know each other, grew close and fell in love. Flynn helped her realize what she always actually knew. That deep down she never really liked the party scenes. She only went along with it all to numb the lonely reality she had to face at home. After meeting Flynn she didn't feel as trapped anymore. He understood her. However, in order to be with each other, they had to overcome obstacles. Primarily in the form of the adults in their lives. Jess's father's disapproval was a given but I was surprised at how vocal Jess's boss was on the matter.

Stella, the big boss at New Beginnings strongly objected Jess's involvement with Flynn. Needless to say, their relationship was an uneasy one. She should not have said what she said and done what she did (snitching to Jess's dad and telling Flynn to stay away when Jess was around) even if it was to protect Flynn. I seriously wanted to yell at her to back off! She also shouldn't have assumed because Jess's family was well-off, they were happy or considered themselves better. "Things that look perfect on the surface are masking flaws." (p. 227). I know it was bittersweet for her to admit it but I love that Jess gives it to Stella straight.

Wilf, the other reason Jess comes to realize how messed up her reckless way was, was hands down the best old man a girl could call a friend. He encouraged her in subtle ways like telling her about his own story with his wife. "No one understood what we saw in each other. But it didn't matter to us. We worked. And people either liked it or they didn't." (p. 220). So sweet! Even when he wasn't around any longer, he motivated Flynn to not give up on going after his heart.

Now onto the ranty part I absolutely couldn't ignore. I was seriously fuming at Flynn's behaviour near the end. The way I see it, I don't think he deserved Jess's forgiveness. With that little act, he messed up big time. The explanation he gave just sounded like excuses to my ears. If Jess wasn't already in love with him, I'm sure she would've handled the meeting afterwards differently. I know I would have but moving on...

I love that eventually relationships were mended and trusts renewed. Jess stood up for herself which was the best lesson she could've learned from the people around her. Nothing matters more than fighting for what you want and being honest about it is the way to go.

4 Cats
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinion are my own and not affected in any way. All quotes were taken from the Advance Review Copy I received.


  1. So happy you liked this, I really did as well. Wonderful review Eileen!

  2. This is actually the first review I've read for this! Whatever it is that happens there at the end sounds very frustrating, haha. I can't stand when characters are forgiven so easily. Glad you liked this, though, it's a lovely review!

    1. Thanks Zoey! That last part was really minor but I know I wasn't the only one unhappy with it haha.

  3. I love when a MC stands up for herself but unfortunately it seems rare these days. I'll definitely have to check this one out! Great review :)

    1. It took some time but I was SO happy when she finally did something! Hope you'll enjoy it Christy :D Definitely let me know if you ever want to discuss.

  4. I'm glad to hear that you really enjoyed the book despite some things here and there that you didn't like as much.
    Great review Eileen!

    1. Thanks Pili!! Only that one thing bugged and even that was minor haha.

  5. I've not heard of this novel! I think I have one of Gurtler's books, but I haven't read anything by her. I'm always looking for good contemporary though, especially since I'm so picky with contemporary. So... *ponders* I'm glad you liked this one a lot! Great review, Eileen :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I have a feeling you'll be furious with that last bit I ranted about. It was minor but it stood out lol. I look forward to a review if you do give this one a try :D

  6. I also read this not sure if i would really enjoy it but fan i totally loved it! it was, like you said, not just a love story but also had a lot of other themes. I hated Nance as well as the snitch (i think you know who i'm talking about >_< )

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. Yesss!! Totally agree and so glad you loved it too :D


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