As a disclaimer, Janet Gurtler asked me to beta read this book in its much-earlier stages of development. So while I already had some thoughts about this book before I read the final copy (which I’d started on NetGalley, but finished once my own finished copy arrived in the mail), my review will only consist of my impressions of the final product. And, you know, disclaimers and all that. I really enjoyed this book when I first read it, and I really enjoyed it now.
This book, despite some of its heavier plot points, felt refreshingly lighthearted, and it’s exactly the kind of summer book everyone loves to read. Morgan was relatively easy to like, and as she was introduced to new friends, we were able to better see them through her eyes. It had a lot to say about the importance of where we come from, but also where we’re going and whom we meet along the way. And it also addressed the importance in this day and age of our online relationships and how they encourage or discourage our “real life” friendships, which I think is something that should be addressed more often in young adult literature. I only had one real sticking point that kept it from being a five-star read, but I’d still highly recommend it. Definitely for the summertime when you’re looking for that one good road-trip book to read!
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- As I said, this book addressed online relationships. Morgan danced to “Sexy and I Know It” wearing boy’s underwear and a potato in the crotch. After being somewhat alienated from her friends at school, she shuts off Facebook and turns on Twitter and meets friends there. Now, I don’t know so much about making real friends on Twitter (hundred-and-forty character limits might deter meaningful conversations), but it’s still about online relationships and the friendships we make through social media. Morgan believes that if she can get to five thousand followers on Twitter, everything will be fine because it somehow proves that she is likeable. Many characters in Morgan’s life, like her friends, Amy and Adam, and her mom/brothers, question the legitimacy of the friendships she’s made online. And while Morgan never really talks about any specific good friends she’s made through Twitter, she always tries to defend her friends there as “real”. I wish it had been a little more of a plot point (my own wishful thinking) because it’s something incredibly relevant to teens today. I’ve made many friends online, even before I started blogging, and I’ve even gotten to meet a couple (one of my friends only lived about an hour away from me, so I got to see her pretty often, which was amazing!). But I know well the look some people give when you talk about a “friend online”. I like that this book addressed it, even a little bit, because you can have real friends online, though they don’t cancel out our face-to-face relationships.
- I think the biggest reason I really enjoyed reading this is because, not only was it funny, but it didn’t focus on just one issue. A lot of books just pick something and then go with it—give a plot summary about something that happens or has happened to the character and center everything on it. A large part of this novel focuses on Morgan meeting her father—a father she never met and who never met her. While that’s true, it also speaks of Morgan’s personal issues with her dancing video going viral and what that was like; and then there’s Amy’s battle with leukemia, which strikes a nerve with the reader even though she isn’t the main character; and the issues Morgan’s mother has that need to be worked through. You think you know what the book is really about, but all the problems the characters face and deal with come together (just like they do in real life—do any of us ever have just one thing that gives us grief?) cohesively in the end to form a realistic and admirable story.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Considering how big of a point it was to Morgan, I really would have liked to know why she was so popular on Twitter. Five thousand followers is no joke. It’s not easy to get that many people interested in what you have to say unless you’re famous or ridiculously funny or popular for some reason. Morgan just seemed to tweet random thoughts out, but for some reason, five thousand people thought she was cool enough to follow—and we were given the impression that very few of them actually knew her “in real life”. So why is she awesome enough to be crazy popular on Twitter? It would have been nice if there had been a little explanation with that. For a book about a road trip, the road trip comprised very little of the actual plot. Morgan’s dad only lives about four hours away from her, so a few chapters were dedicated to the actual road trip and the rest was spent on something else. I kind of wish the road trip (since it’s labeled as a “road trip” book) had encompassed a little more of the overall plot.
- The book is called Sixteen Things I Thought Were True. These thoughts are put at the beginning of chapters throughout the book. However, there was a total of seventeen things that ended up being hashtagged #thingsithoughtweretrue. What kind of sense does that make? And they were all numbered, so it’s not like somebody could have just miscounted. I just don’t understand the inconsistency. Why not call the book Seventeen Things I Thought Were True if there are going to be seventeen things?
Overall: I think this was a really great read, and I’d definitely recommend it for the summertime! It was lighthearted while also addressing some very important issues that should be discussed with teens, including meeting long-lost parents and coping with the death of a friend. It never felt too heavy, which was really nice, and all-in-all, I feel really blessed to have been able to see the product from where it was several months ago to what I bought online and read in my hands! Definitely good for ages fourteen and up, by my judgment, just for some cursing and a couple somewhat heated scenes between characters.