Estelle: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

16 things i thought were true by janet gurtler16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 283
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: kids + parents, road trip, romance, new friends
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Morgan has never known who her dad is, and when her sick mom finally relents and gives in, she doesn’t waste anytime planning a road trip to go see him. Along with her new (highly enthusiastic) friend, Amy, and her boss from the amusement park, Adam, she is off to meet her father and uncovers more secrets then she expected.

There are some books that handle multiple plotlines with grace, and there are some that buckle under the pressure.

Unfortunately, 16 Things I Thought Were True falls in the second category. In addition to the summary I wrote above, Morgan is also reeling from a viral YouTube video that ostracized her from all of her friends and her peers and she has (get ready get set) a Twitter addiction. See? It’s a lot.

It’s a shame too because I was very intrigued about Morgan’s Twitter life and her quest to find out who her dad was. But when you add in the melodramatics from her mom (very uncharacteristic but health problems inspired her to share her love for Morgan more freely), the road trip, the romance, new friend Amy’s own challenges, and the fallout from all of these events? Not only was the rapid fire succession of storylines overwhelming, but because  it was impossible to give each and every storyline enough attention (especially in 283 pages) I had trouble investing fully.

I don’t think I would have felt as let down if there weren’t bright spots like the remarkable chemistry between Morgan and Adam, the loyal and chatty Amy, who has her own baggage but brought a lot of vibrancy to these pages, and a road trip to Canada (that was my first time reading about one). I wanted 16 Things to live up to its full potential but as complicated moments only grew even more complicated and heartbreaking, the reality factor drifted further and further away.

As a self-admitted Twitter addict, I loved the inclusion of the tweets at the start of the chapters (I wish it was all consistent though) and even the idea of Morgan escaping to the Twitter world because she was feeling lonely and insecure. Totally relatable yet while I understand the importance of real social interaction vs. the (sometimes) false intimacy of social media platforms, I was unhappy with how quickly some of the characters in the book glossed over (what could be) important bonds for Morgan. I know it’s “just the internet” but so many of us know it can be a place rooted in true friendships.

Despite some positives in 16 Things I Thought Were True, I would have much preferred a story that streamlined its multiple arcs and had a sharper focus on one (or two or three) of its many themes. On the upside, I’m definitely up for trying another Gurtler book and finding out that works for me.

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10 thoughts on “Estelle: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

  1. Rachel says:

    This is so sad. I really wanted to read this one! I’ve only read one other book by her and didn’t like it, but I was going to give her a second chance. I strongly dislike it when a book has many plot points but doesn’t go into any sort of depth with them, so I think I’m better off not taking a risk and reading this one. :/

  2. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages says:

    Was this the one we talked about where you were struggling the write the review? I think it came out really well. I had been interested in reading this, I was never dying to read it, but you’ve definitely tampered down my interest. It’s so hard when there are bright spots among what’s otherwise a not so great book because you think about what could have been!

  3. Alexa S. says:

    It sounds like the author tried to tackle a few too many things in this novel! Still, there’s something about the elements in this story that make it seem appealing in its way. I don’t think I’ll be reading it, but it will make me curious if any other authors will tackle somewhat similar things in another novel in the future.

  4. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle says:

    I”m sorry this one didn’t work for you :(. Road trip stories are great, but i totally know what you mean about feeling like a book has packed too much into it. But a strong romance, good friend and using current technology in the text (having them on twitter) are all pluses for me. Not sure I’ll read this, but thanks for the review!

  5. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says:

    Ah, the dreaded negative review! Or, constructive 🙂
    That’s a shame. I actually don’t even think I ever got approved for this one on EW so maybe that’s a good thing. It sounded cute but sounds like it was a bunch of good ideas that 1) didn’t shape up and 2) were too much for one book. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as you hoped!

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