Title: The Truth about Us by Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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.
The Truth about Us by Janet Gurtler is the perfect example of why young adult fiction is popular among readers of all ages. The storyline has relevant topics that are handled with sensitivity and a lack of angst. The characters are sympathetic and likeable with real life problems to overcome. There is very little drama which is difficult to accomplish when dealing with teenagers, but since the issues are realistic, there is no need to add extra turmoil. The romance is very sweet and worth fighting for although the odds are stacked against a happily ever after. When all of these elements are combined together, the resulting story is engaging, thought-provoking and incredibly heartwarming.
Jess West used to have a perfect life but for the last couple of years, her family has slowly been falling apart. Her mom is deeply depressed and unable to function. Her father is working long hours and he is frequently out of town on business trips. Her sister spends most of her time at her boyfriend’s house. She lost her best friend and to keep her loneliness at bay, Jess has been hanging out with a boy crazy, out of control party girl. Jess has been pushing her boundaries for quite some time and after her father finds up when she has been up to, he gets her a volunteer job at a soup kitchen to keep her out of trouble.
Jess has a few reservations about her volunteer job. She is from a wealthy family and she has little experience with poverty. Working with people who are down on their luck is a little humbling, but it provides her with some much needed insight into the lives of the less fortunate. Her initial misconceptions about the soup kitchen clientele give way to surprising friendships, and eventually, romance. But Jess discovers that not everyone supports their relationship and she learns the hard way that some people are worth fighting for.
The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler is a beautiful journey of self discovery and healing for Jess, her family and her friends. The introduction of real life, relevant social issues gives the storyline depth and provides an opportunity for the characters to grow through their experiences. The romance aspect of the storyline is understated but crucial to the overall plot. It is a multi-layered and complex story that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.