{Review/Excerpt/Giveaway} THE TRUTH ABOUT US by Janet Gurtler

I've previously reviewed two other novels
by Janet Gurtler,
How I Lost You

Janet has also stopped by ABS during Girls in Sports week with an awesome guest post,
"Playing Like a Girl!"

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    I HAVE FIFTEEN MINUTES to get home. It's a twenty-five-minute walk. 
    I'm so dead.
(pg 9, US e-ARC edition)

Sometimes, you meet a character and you just want to smack him or her upside the head. Especially when the character goes through little character growth throughout the novel. When a character grows and blossoms and becomes lovable, however, you want to embrace those character flaws and really root for him or her. Luckily, in THE TRUTH ABOUT US by Janet Gurtler, Jess falls into the second camp and becomes very personable as the novel progresses despite her flawed introduction.

Jess is privileged, and she knows it. She's always been a good girl, but with her new friends, she's more reckless and doing things she never would have before. After getting caught by a friend's mother, Jess is GROUNDED. Not just grounded, but she now has to spend her entire summer helping out at a local soup kitchen. What starts off as a mundane and boring summer quickly becomes a summer that Jess will never forget. She meets people at the soup kitchen that enhance and change her life for the better, and even falls in love despite the odds set against a rich girl and a poor boy.

I really like the way Janet Gurtler developed Jess and forced her to see the world through new eyes. It felt very real and down-to-earth. Jess began to change even as the world she came from remained the same. She started to figure out who she was and what she wanted in life. There's a strong emotional core running through the novel, which delves into the relationships we make in life. Not just romantic attachments, but attachments with bosses and friends and the elderly. Expectations are turned upside down and blossom into something new. There is, of course, romance, too. Flynn is from the wrong side of the tracks and frowned upon by Jess' friends and family, but there is so much depth to him that it's hard to stay away. She knows he's down on his luck, that if circumstance was different, Flynn and his family wouldn't be where they are today. The way Gurtler resolves everyone's issues is unexpected, but it works, and reminds me of why I like her novels so much!

by Janet Gurtler

My face burns.
“What are you doing here?” he asks.
Wilf frowns and then looks at me. “What’s up with you kids these days? In my time, we treated nice--looking young ladies with respect,” he says to Flynn gruffly. “Flynn, this is Jess. She volunteers here.”
I say a silent thank--you to him for calling me nice--looking and glance back at Flynn.
“Since when?” he asks.
“Since now. How about, ‘hello, nice to meet you’?” Wilf says to prompt both of us. “Is that so hard?”
“We’ve already met,” Flynn says.
My cheeks stay on fire as he climbs down the ladder.
“The shelf is fixed,” he says to Wilf. “Slumming?” he adds to me as he jumps to the floor. He folds up the ladder and then leans it against a counter lined with plants.
The little boy stares back and forth.
I try to think of something light and witty to save the moment, but my mind is blank. Instead, I panic. “What’d you do to get stuck working at this place?” I say, channeling my inner Nance.
“What’d I do?” He stares at me and then his lips turn up. “I didn’t have the right daddy, I guess. I’m here to have lunch. With my little brother. I’m not a volunteer.”
My stomach drops. Fail. Epic fail.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing; innuendo )
Language: PG13 ( language such as "beey-otch" and "slutty;" one f-bomb )
Violence: --
Other:  ( underage drinking, underage smoking; flashing on video chat )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover doesn't reach out and scream, "Read me!" but it's also very contemporary. I tend to overlook contemporary covers. ^^;;; 

I do like the way the word TRUTH is a different color from the rest of the title, and the way the author's name doesn't mimic that color--or even any color in the title! Instead, it's white like the blurring at the top of the cover, like the white in the cracks of the bricks, like the white in both t-shirts. It makes it stand out.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Janet Gurtler
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: For Review

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.  


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