The core concept of #16thingsithoughtweretrue is right there in the title of the book. Morgan’s been living her life in such a way as to not get burned again. She already felt inferior because her father, whose name she doesn’t even know, abandoned her before she was even born. Add to that the embarrassing video her supposed best friend Lexi posted of Morgan wearing tighty whities and dancing to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” and Morgan’s a mess. She’s pushing everyone away in an effort to spare herself rejection or betrayal.
The things Morgan thought were true are varied in both gravitas and subject. Actually, I am all for this hashtag. Life really does feel like a constant process of learning how wrong you are about things, in both good and bad ways. You might learn, like Morgan does, that more people will like you if you embrace who you are instead of being bristly so they don’t get the chance to reject you. (I’ve been there myself.) You might also learn that terrible things do happen to good people for no damn reason. A lot of the things Morgan learns in #16thingsithoughtweretrue are things I’ve had to learn myself, and it’s an ever-ongoing process. I think the hashtag is an apt and appropriate way to sum up the way life surprises you as you grow.
Another significant aspect of #16thingsithoughtweretrue is first impressions. This may not be Pride & Prejudice, but Austen and Gurtler have a similar interest in this subject. Morgan may not always have been the type to make snap judgments about people, but she definitely is now. Throughout the course of #16thingsithoughtweretrue she has to reevaluate pretty much everyone in her life. No matter how well you know someone, there’s always more to them than you knew, like her parents and twin brothers. In addition, there are her coworkers, Adam and Amy, both of whom she thought she had pegged, but she’s oh so wrong. I think this aspect of her character will annoy some readers, but it’s also very realistic to me.
In accordance with learning to look past first impressions, Morgan learns about friendship over this very brief period. Though she was no stranger to friends in the past, she’s pretty jaded at the novel’s opening. Lexi’s betrayal on top of her fear that she’s ultimately not lovable has made Morgan averse to trust. Amy and Adam both sort of force their way into Morgan’s life. One of my favorite non-romantic tropes is when people from different social spheres or backgrounds are forced to interact and bond, which played out really well here.
The cast is really delightful. The heroine, Morgan, is flawed but charming enough that I couldn’t not root for her. Amy manages to be both deeply annoying and utterly charming, which sums her up in a nutshell, I think. She never stops talking, despite the number of times she puts her foot in her mouth. Obnoxious as that can be, she’s so genuine and caring that you can’t help falling for her. Adam is an adorable nerd boy with glasses, of which there are not enough in fiction. Just saying.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I have two criticisms, however. The writing is at times a bit stilted. Sadly, I failed to note a page number for this, but there were several times something just felt wrong and threw me out of the text. The other problem is the editing. Sourcebooks needed to give this another read through before final publication, because I noted multiple issues and I was not reading closely. There was a repeated word in one place, and at the very end the word “discrete” is used in place of “discreet.” I’m used to looking past such problems in ARCs, but since this is a finished copy, I need to note it.
The Final Verdict:
Janet Gurtler’s contemporary novels focus on family and friendship, with adorable romances to boot, based on my experience. #16thingsithoughtweretrue fits this mold, and is a delightful read. I highly recommend Gurtler’s novels to those who like to watch a flawed protagonist grow and learn or those who like nerdy boys with glasses.