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The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The Truth About Us

by Janet Gurtler

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I'll tell you the truth. I picked up The Truth About Us because it was written by Janet Gurtler. I've read two of her other books, and each time I was pleasantly surprised. I'm finding it harder and harder to fully immerse myself in contemporary YA lately. I'm constantly left wanting more character depth and less cliched romance. I crossed my fingers, and settled in to see if Janet Gurtler could pull me out of my slump.

Now, I won't deny that Jess was a character I started out disliking. It was obvious I was supposed to though. She was the perfect picture of a vapid rich girl. Of a person who lets her popularity dictate her actions, without any thought whatsoever to those around her. However, just like I was hoping, Jess soon grew on me. As the layers of her character slowly peeled back, I was able to see the causes behind her behavior. Able to see the amazing girl lurking underneath. By the time I reached the ending, I was misty eyed and smiling.

Other things I enjoyed? The fact that Flynn was such a vibrant, and strong character. He wasn't just a broken boy for Jess to fix. I also loved Jess' connection with the people that she met throughout this story. It was the little things. Her love of plants, the introspection that she showed as her character slowly realized that her life wasn't what she wanted. Jess showed that money definitely doesn't buy happiness.

So why the four star rating? The presence of a mild case of instalove, and then a very over the top breakup, made me cranky.. My other issue was that some of my questions were never resolved. Jess' friend Nance plays a big part in this story, but nothing is ever wrapped up with her. Still, my heart was too full of happiness from before, and my eyes were too misty, to let that bother me too much. This was still one wonderful book. ( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Great contemporary YA writing with a lot of heart without sacrificing realism.
  chronic | Mar 23, 2017 |
Review: The Truth About Us This is the second Janet Gurtler book I’ve read, and I was not disappointed.
I love the growth of the characters throughout the book.  Jess begins as an unlikeable spoiled brat, but working at a soup kitchen definitely changes her perspective, and allows her to do something more than act out to hide her own frustration.  She is such a sweetheart to the people that use the services of the soup kitchen, and makes some friends that show her just how nice she is.  She has family drama she’s dealing with but can’t talk about, and she makes ridiculous choices because of it.  I really like Flynn.  He’s real, and will tell it how it is.  He’s got his own hangups about the differences between him and Jess, and it frustrates the hell out of her.
Like I said before the character growth is my favorite thing.  Also the relationships between friends and family are a big concept in this book.  How can you fix what is broken, and still be okay in the end?  Each character deals with the circumstances in the book differently.  Some are empowering, and others are not so great.  I love the friendship Jess forms with Wilf.  It’s sweet and had me laughing at their interactions.  He also tells her when she’s acting an ass, and I think she looks up to him for that.
By the end of this book I was a tear-streaked mess.  So many awesome things in this book, and I can’t wait to see what Gurtler brings us in the future.
  ( )
  BookishThings | Mar 23, 2016 |
This was a light, quick read but nothing memorable. The characters were rather two dimensional and Jess, the main protagonist, was very shallow, especially at the start. I liked Flynn until his brother's accident, then I wanted to shake some sense into him. My favourite character was Kyle. I am always a sucker for little kids in books, and he won my heart. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
​What do you get when you mix a young, privileged girl, unhealthy emotional coping skills, and a lesson in thankfulness and self-worth?

The Truth About Us.

(gosh, you guys are smart)

Jess, our main character, is a bit caricature: doe-eyed, blond, rich girl who does not know her own self-worth vs cost. She has looks, money, popularity, and a hot mess of a family. Jess seemed shallow at first but overall, I think her character is in that awkward, late teen cornerstone in her life. She's still figuring things out and we see she's growing but not mature enough to make smart decisions all the time. Or hangout with the right people.

Friends change, for better, for worse. In the beginning of summer, she acts out, allegedly in reaction to her mother's condition of That Which Shall Not Be Discussed.

The reader doesn't get an explanation of That Which Shall Not Be Discussed until about half way through the book. By then, the reader is ready for it. After much embarrassment over Jess' choices, her father ignores the *whys* and focuses on the surface behavior. Her father prefers to stick his head in the sand and sends Jess off to work in a soup kitchen/shelter as penance. Relationships are made. Eyes are opened. Enter love interest from the other side of the proverbial tracks. Family implodes, finally works together. In rolls the humble and this girl has a new outlook on life. Easy peasey, fixed, right?

From the beginning, both of Jess' family got on my nerves. They act selfishly by emotionally checking out.

Allie, Jess' older sister doesn't make waves around the house. Allie stays at her friends or boyfriend's house.

Jess' mother copes by sleeping away the hours, days, and weeks.

Dad mirrors this by burying himself in what looks good and his job.

The only problem is when you bury something toxic, the ugly will reappear elsewhere. It always does.

The dictionary states that "retardation" is the act or result of delaying. This defines Jess' family. Emotional retardation by ignoring the problems.

I was frustrated reading this. Why didn't Dad get Mom help? Why didn't he see his daughter's behavior for what it was? He should be asking, "Are me and my wife checking out emotionally hurting our family?"

This is why Mom and Dad get no sympathy from me. They forgot that when parenting gets difficult or bad stuff happens, you don't have the luxury of not dealing with life or worse, setting the tone of every man for himself. Dad is a successful lawyer. Mom had a thriving business in real estate. They obviously know how to communicate. But not with their own children or spouses?

When things go south, people commonly use unhealthy coping mechanisms: drugs, alcohol, dieting, sex, keeping up with the Jones'...or sometimes they turn to family, a support system, a hobby, or volunteering. True, a support system can and sometimes will fail but again, toxic tends to come out whether we want it to or not. I only saw her parents acting very human. Very selfish.

The romance aspect was cute. Very uptown girl meets Flynn, a young man who understands hard work and what its like to live hand to mouth. It wad a good mix of heavy realistic and fluffy HEA. I enjoyed Jess' connection to those she meets at the shelter. Wilf, Kyle, Flynn, and Stella all had their own stories. Their own experiences and reasons for being there.

One oet peeve was what I felt was a stupid decision to cope with a breakup. My opinion of a character went from Cheering Section to What An Idiot. This may not bug some people but for me, I would never allow someone to make decisions for me and treat me this way. Vague but no spoilers, I know.

Overall, I enjoyed the personal growth aspect. The author did a great job of portraying dysfunction within a family, to their own meltdowns, different coping skills, and finally coming together again. Its a real testament to the beauty in the breakdown, to pull together as a family and finally grow in the process.

3.5 of 5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for a review copy in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  fueledbycoffee | Jul 3, 2015 |
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When Jess's father orders her to work at a soup kitchen for the summer, she meets Flynn, a classmate from the wrong side of the tracks, and discovers that sometimes the person who should not fit in your world is the one who finally makes you feel as if you belong.… (more)

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