Blog Tour, Author Q&A, & Review: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

Thank you, Sourcebooks, for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour celebrating the release of 16 Things I Thought Were True!

16things

16 Things I Thought Were True
By Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: March 4, 2014

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 sweet…in 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.

I’m thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for this terrific young adult novel! Author Janet Gurtler was kind enough to play along for a brief Q&A:

Did you have an “Amy” in your life as a teen?

I didn’t really have an Amy in my life as a teen, but I met an Amy when I was traveling a while ago. She was this great kid, a teen girl, who had no filter and she was so adorable and cracked me up and I knew I had to fictionalize her.  Amy was really fun to write.

What can you tell us about your best friend from your teen years? How did you meet? What qualities made him/her so special?
Well, I moved in grade 7 and then again in grade 11 so I had a few different best friends. My best friend in high school was a girl named Rosalyn. We met at high school, but became close when we started working together (kind of like Amy and Morgan) We used to laugh. Oh how we could laugh. We were both kind of insecure dorky kids who wanted to be much more popular than we were. We had unrequited crushes on boys together too. I mostly loved her loyalty and the way we could gab for hours about anything. And the laughing!

Morgan spends so much of this book glued to her phone and tracking her Twitter followers. Do you think teens in earlier generations had anything equivalent? Did you?

Oh man, if I was a teen in today’s world I would have LOVED social media. I was really quite shy, though I tried hard to hide it and I think it’s much easier to be a little bolder online.  I don’t really feel like I had anything like that. I was a teen in the 80’s so that was before cell phones were even around!!!

What was your inspiration for 16 Things?
Mainly I wanted to tell the story of a girl who was finding more comfort from her online world than the real world.  I wanted to show how being overexposed online could send someone into hiding, and ironically one of the best places to hide….is online.

Did you always know you wanted to write? How did you get started?
I’ve loved writing since I was in the sixth grade. It’s always been my passion and the way I love to express myself.  I started writing books after my son was born. I’d always wanted to do that (write a book) and I did it while he napped. And then I was hooked. He’s 13 now!

What advice would you give to girls today who are interested in writing?

Keep writing! Read a lot and write a lot. Write stories, and journals and letters and whatever else you want to write. And the reading. That’s important too, because it teaches you what resonates with you and what you might feel best about writing.

What are you working on now? What will we see next from you?

I am currently writing my sixth Sourcebooks Fire book! It’s called THE TRUTH ABOUT US. It’s more of a YA romance, about a girl and a boy she’s forbidden to be with. She comes from a family with money and is forced to work at a soup kitchen for the summer  (for her bad behavior) and he is a guest at the soup kitchen.  Of course, no one wants them to be together.

And just for fun: If you were going on a road trip and you were in charge of snacks, what are the must-haves?

Caramel popcorn. Diet coke. And chewing gum. And then we’re good to go!!!!

Thank you, Janet, for taking the time to answer my questions!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

My thoughts:

16 Things I Thought Were True is a funny, engaging young adult novel that throws in a wrenching twist toward the end that was a real punch in the guts for me. A book that starts out with a girl obsessing over her number of Twitter followers while cringing at the thought of the awful viral video her friend posted — of her dancing in her underwear — sounds pretty light and fluffy, doesn’t it?

As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover… or in this case, by its use of hashtags.

Morgan’s story seems straightforward: As her mother prepares for heart surgery, she finally reveals to Morgan the name of her biological father, whom Morgan believes to have abandoned her before she was even born. Meanwhile, Morgan is deeply embarrassed by her online notoriety, and faces social ostracism by the teens she works with at the amusement park over summer break. But two of her coworkers seem to see more in her than she does herself: Bubbly, quirky Amy, who talks non-stop and seems to never get embarrassed about anything, and nerdy cute Adam, a manager at work who’s the same age as Morgan… and who’s actually kinda hot once she takes a closer look.

With Amy and Adam pushing and pulling, Morgan puts into motion a plan to find her bio-dad and confront him for walking out on her all those years ago. Thus ensues an epic road trip, filled with junk food, a flat tire, whales, scary cows, and sweet old ladies who (inexplicably) are staying at the same hostel. Amy and Adam push Morgan to rethink the things she always believed, face and share some hard truths, open up a bit, and do the things she’s been afraid to do. Oh, and also? Maybe put down the phone once in a while, stop worrying about her number of followers, and dare to be the kind of person she wants to be in real life, not just with her anonymous internet friends.

Amy is probably the loveliest character I’ve encountered in fiction in quite some time. Her constantly chipper, no-filters personality seems potentially annoying at first, but you just can’t help falling in love with her bubbliness and her absolute commitment to embracing everything life throws in her path. Don’t we all wish we had a friend like Amy? She’s simply adorable. Adam ends up being quite a great guy as well, not just in terms of boyfriend-worthiness, but also as a decent person, a caring individual, and a devoted friend.

The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and totally caught me by surprise. Wow. I won’t say more about it, except that it’s powerful and unforgettable.

What I initially thought might be just a teen romp with cautionary warnings about living life online ends up being a story with a more serious message about true friendship, being honest with yourself and with others, and looking beyond the surface to find the real value of the people in your life. I truly enjoyed Morgan’s journey throughout 16 Things I Thought Were True, and look forward to reading more by this author.

____________________________________________

About the Author:

jgurtlerJanet Gurtler lives in Calgary Alberta, near the Canadian Rockies, with her husband and son and a chubby Chihuahua named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot. (From the author’s website: http://www.janet-gurtler.com)

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