Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer MathieuThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 3rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

This one came to me highly recommended from a fellow contemporary lover. I am so happy that Bekka of Great Imaginations took the time to tell me all about this one because I had seen the original cover for The Truth About Alice and thought it was a historical novel so had completely written it off. I have to say that I am very happy they decided to change up the cover for the novel, this new one suits the subject matter and genre much better than the first one.

The thing that had me taken with The Truth About Alice from the very beginning is the way in which it’s told. We have multiple POVs telling us their viewpoint of all of the drama going on at Healy High surrounding Alice Franklin. We get the perspective of the queen bee of the school, Elaine, Alice’s one-time best friend Kelsie, the smartest boy in school Kurt and the cool jock Josh. All of these perspectives are told in a very natural way, as if the characters are simply writing in their journal. Mathieu did a flawless job of giving each character a unique voice which was amazing to me because the characters spanned both sexes. I never questions whose perspective I was reading at any time and I really felt like there was a shift between each one. A lot of the times with a novel like this I struggle because the voices all seem to blend together but that is so not the case here.

What all of these characters are talking about is Alice Franklin and her downfall from popularity at Healy High. Healy is a very small town, only about 3000 people and just as you would expect everybody knows everybody’s business. It all starts at a party thrown by Elaine when a rumour starts getting passed around that Alice slept with two guys while there. From there things escalate when one of the guys, all-star quarterback Brandon, dies in a car accident. This probably wouldn’t reflect on Alice at all except the one person who was in the truck at the time of the crash, Josh, says that Brandon lost control because Alice was sending him inappropriate texts. This novel is all small town drama and misconstrued information, it is so frustrating but the depiction is so realistic that you just can’t stop reading it. As the reader, you know all along that not everything being spread around about Alice is the truth and you just want to shake the characters for being so mean to her at every single opportunity.

The one person who knows that Alice isn’t who she is being made out to be is Kurt. Man, this guy was so sweet. He was this super shy, incredibly smart guy who had a huge crush on Alice for a long time. As she is outcast from her regular group and her grades start slipping he sees an opportunity to step in as her tutor and get closer to her. I loved how gentle and sweet he was with her, this was in large part due to how nervous he was around her. Their growing fondness for each other was such a bright spot in such a dark, emotional novel. The other perspectives that we see show us that none of these people are perfect and that they all have their secrets. The most frustrating for me was Kelsie. This girl was Alice’s best friend but she was so quick to drop her like a hot potato so that her social status wouldn’t be negatively impacted. What’s interesting is that as we get her back story you really understand where she is coming from and can even empathize with her.

The Truth About Alice is a painful depiction of relentless bullying and how rumours can affect someone. It has impeccable characterizations and is told in a unique way that keeps you gripping the pages. Jennifer Mathieu is most definitely an author I will be on the lookout for in the future.


4 Hot Espressos

24 Responses to “Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu”

  1. Lola

    Great Review Jenni! This book sounds really interesting, the thing that really grabbed my attention is the fact that this book is about Alice, but you get to see her from other point of views and don’t actually get Alice her point of view. I really like multiple point of view books, so this sounds like a book for me. And I’ve read a lot of multiple point of views books where the different characters have almost the same voice, so I am glad to hear you could easily differentatiate them in this book!

    • Jenni

      Yes, it was told in such a great way. I loved seeing everyone recount the tale and interpret everything that happened quite differently. The fact that the POVs were so well done was also really great because I find I struggle with multiple POV from time to time. Thanks for stopping by, Lola!

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I was initially worried about the content of this book. I tend to shy away from bullying books because they are too painful for me to read, but this sounds like it was so well-written. There’s no chance I can miss out on it.
    I’m a little worried about the multiple POVs. I can see how it’s essential to the story, but I tend to dislike multiple POV books for some reason. Still, I’m going to give this one a shot. I’m looking forward to meeting Kurt. I already like him from the sound of your review.
    Lovely review, Jenni.

    • Jenni

      I’m happy that you’re going to give this one a shot, Nick! It was really well done, I tend to have trouble with multiple POV too but it just works so well here. I hope you love it!

  3. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    Your review has made me so excited to read this book! It’s next up on my ARC queue, so we’ll see if I end up feeling the same way. Different POVs always make me nervous because the characters tend to blur together for me, so I’m glad to hear that Mathieu did an excellent job keeping them distinct.

  4. Lauren

    This sounds like a thought-provoking story and I’m glad to hear it worked for you! I can’t wait to meet Kurt, he sounds like exactly the sort of person Alice needs in her life. Wonderful review!

  5. ShootingStarsMag

    I don’t think I saw the original cover, but I do really like this one! That’s great you loved this book so much. I’m happy to hear the multiple narrations all worked, and I’m so curious about this one now!

    • Jenni

      The original was a sepia look at a girls face, it just screamed historical to me. This one is much better. I hope you find the time to read it!

  6. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    I totally agree! The character development was just on point with this one because not only could you really feel for Alice even though basically none of the book was even in her POV, even the unlikable characters were so well developed you couldn’t erally HATE them 🙂

    • Jenni

      Yes! Exactly, Eileen! I was floored by how well I came to understand everyone even though I didn’t agree with all of the characters.

  7. Pili

    I’m still not entirely sure about this one, cause I feel I might end up being too enraged with some of the characters, but it seems like the kind of contemporary I’d have to add to my list anyhow.
    Great review, Jenni!