Wednesday, March 5, 2014

16 THINGS I THOUGHT WERE TRUE - Amy's Review and Interview with Janet Gurtler

16 Things I Thought Were True
By Janet Gurtler

Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.

About the Author:
Janet lives near the Canadian Rockies with her husband and son and a little dog named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot.

Author Link:


I was intrigued by this book and have been looking forward to reading it since I first heard about its release several months ago. Janet Gurtler did not let me down.

The journey that Morgan takes is a bumpy one, with a lot of really bad things happening in a short period of time. Her saving grace is the odd friendship she develops with her boss, Adam, and a co-worker named Amy, who loves to dance to the beat of her own drum. While Morgan deals with negative attention from a video of her that went viral, strained relations with her mother, and searching for her father, the friendships she develops with Adam and Amy and sweet, endearing, awkward, and feel very real. Morgan might not always make the best choices, but she makes highly-emotional 18-year-old choices, and each choice she makes adds to her overall journey.

If you like character-driven fiction about people facing real problems, I highly recommend this book. Gurtler did an amazing job in giving each character an authentic voice of their own, and through their actions and their words, the characters – even the most minor in the cast of players – come to life. The tension built between characters, particularly between Morgan and her mother, feels genuine. The issues of abandonment and worth because her father was not around are authentic. Morgan’s decisions, based on her back story, are realistic. While it might not be how the thirty-something me would handle this situation, it could be how the 18-year-old me handled it, especially dealing with high-emotion issues such as our parents and family.

The book moves quickly, which I thought fit the characters in this novel, as well as the general themes of the story overall.

Gurtler has an amazing way of taking a real-life issue, transforming it into a novel, and leaving me reflecting on my own life. She writes books that make people not only engage emotionally, but intellectually, too. This book is no different. As I was reading, I felt myself go through the roller coaster of emotions that the characters did through each part of their own journeys.

And, without giving anything away, the last fourth of the book wrecked me in the best possible way.

After I finished reading, I was forced to process the story. It made me feel things I was not prepared to feel and made me question things I haven’t thought of in years. I told other people to read it because I needed someone to be able to talk to about this book.  That’s rare for me.

That also means it gets five out of five for me.

Book Links:
Barnes & Noble

You write a lot about real problems facing teenagers. What is your inspiration in the stories you tell? What inspired you specifically for 16 Things I Thought Were True?
I had some “issues” when I was a teenager, and I think that’s why I’m drawn to stories about real problems. I always try to tell stories that show how people are flawed but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people all around.  I think teens who have struggles still have a great chance to turn out to be healthy adults and I usually pick a place in time when they might be seeing that for themselves for the first time.  
16 Things was inspired by the way people can hide out online. I wanted to show a girl who was cut off from the world because of something that happened online and interestingly ends up hiding out online.
You capture the teenage voice so well in 16 Things I Thought Were True. What do you attribute that to?
Thank you! I honestly think I can dig into my inner teen voice from experience and also from spying on teens on Twitter. LOL. Not always, sometimes I have to dial back my adult mind but I think some of the feelings teens have are still similar to what happens to almost everyone. It’s just more intense in the teen years.  
There were a lot of really important life lessons in this book. Why was it important to you to share these messages?
I don’t know if I always go out into a book with a plan to share lessons, but I always feel like I kind of write to the teen I was, or might be in today’s world --and tell her the things I think I needed to know.
Your characters, primary and secondary, are so different from one another, each with a unique voice,  and have so many facets to their personalities. Where do you draw inspiration from your characters? How did you picture Morgan, Adam, Amy, Jake, Josh, and the others and what process did you go through turning them from thoughts to fictional people that readers connect with?
The characters in this book were fun to write. I kind of modelled parts of them after people I’ve met and been interested in. Like Amy. I met an Amy a while ago. She was this quirky teen who said whatever was on her mind and she was so adorable, I used some of that for Amy. I actually had to pull her back a bit, because she tended to take over some scenes.  The twins were also based on some guys I know and I just added some things. I never knew in the beginning that (tiny spoiler alert) Jake and Amy were going to have a “thing”. It just kind of happened!  I try and make my characters real to me, give them some unique things that make them seem like real people.  Like what they want to do with their lives, what they like, what inspires them, that sort of thing. The more real they are to me I suppose, the more real they come across.
Where there any images or songs that helped inspire this book? Do you draw on inspiration through photos or songs for your books in general?

I usually don’t get inspiration from photos or songs to be honest. I live inside my head and usually my ideas come from images. The idea of this book really started for me with the image of Morgan dancing around in boys underwear, being goofy and uninhibited. And then having that blow up in her face.  I don’t write with music on, although I do use photos from time to time to help me describe a house or a street or something.
How do you deal with writer's block?
I deal with writers block by pretending it doesn’t exist. If I am feeling stalled or not in the mood to write, I will force myself to write a certain amount of words each day, even if it’s small. By doing that I find I tend to write my way into the story. If I’m really not able to go anywhere, it usually signals to me, something is wrong and I need to change it.
How do you picture Morgan's ever after? Is it a happy one?
I think Morgan does have a happy life. I think her relationship with her mom improves a lot once she moves out and is on her own. Morgan, is more maternal than her mom and it works better when they’re not under the same roof. I think she goes to University and becomes a successful business person.  And is the rock that holds her family together.  
Without giving anything away, the ending of 16 Things I Thought Were True takes a bit of a dark detour. Was it difficult for you to take that journey with your characters?
No. That particular turn came to me in a moment where I went. ..THAT has to happen. And it felt right. I tried to add a few clues but it seems like it’s a shock to most people who read the book. But I knew it since the road trip started.
What can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I am currently under a deadline to turn in my last Sourcebooks Fire book April 1st! It’s called The Truth About Us and it’s the story of a forbidden love. A girl from a well to do family is forced to work at a Soup Kitchen for the summer and ends up meeting a boy who makes her messed up world make a little more sense.
Do you see yourself in Morgan, Adam, or Amy?
Hmmm.  Probably Morgan, though she is quite different than I am in most ways.  I wish I was more like Amy!
What are some things that you thought were true?
I thought my mom turned into my grade 3 teacher during the day and then back to my mom after school. She seemed to know everything and it was my only explanation!
If you were to get caught dancing in your underwear, what song would you be rocking out?
Oh dear, let’s hope I NEVER get caught dancing in my underwear. (shudders) But I would rock out to LMFAO, but Party Rock, not Sexy and  I Know It!
Have you ever gone on a road trip with your friends?
I did when I was 21. Some girlfriends and I went on a weekend trip to North Dakota. Yee ha!  It was a long time ago and involved too much vodka,  frat houses and Billy Ray Cyrus’s song, Achy Breaky Heart!
What's your favorite road trip snack?
Carmel popcorn and diet coke!

Where can people find you on social media/internet?
@janetgurtler or on Facebook.  Janet Gurtler!

Other Books by Janet Gurtler

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