Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

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Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
The Truth About Alice
Jennifer Mathieu
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: June 3rd 2014
by Roaring Book Press

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Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody. Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.
-A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review-

A very important story told through several outer point of view that is ultimately about not believing everything you hear. The Truth About Alice takes on stereotypes and rumours and high school life in general, and unravels its layers to show the truth underneath. To show that not everything – or everyone – is as it seems. It’s pretty brilliant in that way: in its raw honesty, in its bluntness in showing us us how quickly and easily truths get distorted. And most importantly, how bullying is very real in all kinds of forms.

The Truth About Alice is narrated by several characters, not of the victim herself, which I find is part of the brilliance of this story. I initially feared four POVs would be overwhelming, but they are so well written that I soon realized it was perfect for what the author was trying to achieve. Each perspective has a voice that is incredibly distinctive, so much so that it was as if they were right in front of me, telling their story. It was never a struggle to keep track of each perspective like some books can be. They soon had the story flowing flawlessly. They’re also varied in stereotypes: the popular girl who thinks she’s the bomb, the jock who thinks he’s king, the invisible genius, the wannabe who thinks popularity is more important than loyalty. It’s a high-school all-star cast that tells an all too familiar story.

What’s even more impressive for a book that has under 210 pages with so many perspectives, is how well developed every single character is. These people are not mere words on a page, they become real people with dramatic personalities and stories of their own surrounding this ordeal. Each one offers a new angle on what was happening to Alice, and the events that led to it. This gave us a real 360-degree understanding of the story, not to mention how incredibly thought-provoking it is on the spread of rumours and lies, no matter the intent.

Aside from bullying, this book also tackles several issues that gives it even more importance and power, like sex and homosexuality (and another that would be a mild spoiler). I was impressed by how tactfully these were handled; they send an important message to teens, but stay far from being preachy. I do admit to expecting more from the ending itself. While I loved how she handled the situation, I thought we would get more from Alice’s character. A bigger character arc, maybe? More progress overall? I know that by the time we got a glimpse at Alice’s POV, I though I’d feel more than I did. Still, it’s a wonderfully written, powerful story, nonetheless.

The Truth About Alice is a book I would like to hand out to every single teen I know. On top of being a compelling story, it holds a valuable message that is so relevant no matter who you are or where you stand on your high school social ladder.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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19 Responses to “Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu”

  1. Savannah

    It took me almost a whole day to read this book because I kept getting so angry that I had to put the book down and walk away. The things these kids did just appalled me. Plus it made me angry and sad.
    Savannah recently posted…Review: The OneMy Profile

  2. Tina

    This sounds great and so important for kids to be reading. I can’t even imagine growing up with what these girls are around now a days. Thanks for this review, can’t wait!
    Tina recently posted…Swings & SlidesMy Profile

  3. kristin

    You’re killing me! LoL I’ve been dying to read this book the moment I saw it. I’ve never read a book like this before and I find it very intriguing that it is like a web of POVs about the MC but never the MC’s POV. I had no idea from the synopsis that it would have that much depth to it. Normally I like to read a book first (review copy or library) before purchasing it but I think I’m gonna bite the bullet. Great review.
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous
    kristin recently posted…Ramblings of a Book Sniffer: I’m Still Here!My Profile

  4. Rashika

    I have yet to see a negative review for this book. I know Faye loved it which is how I first ended up hearing about the book and getting excited for it. I usually do avoid books about bullying but the idea that this is told from the perspective of 4 different people, neither of them the person who is actually being bullied is very intriguing.

    I am SOOOOOO glad to see you enjoyed it!

    Lovely review as always, Giselle :)
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBrideMy Profile

  5. Lisa (Lost in Literature)

    Agreed! With pretty much everything. I have my review posting Thursday, and I agree with everything you said. I didn’t even think about how short it was… but you’re right, only 210 and all those POV’s! Mathieu did a really great job, that’s for sure. I also see what you mean about the ending. I would have liked a bit more from Alice’s POV too. Great review, Giselle! :)
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Top Ten Books That Will Be in Our Beach Bags This Summer!My Profile

  6. Faye D'Social Potato (@kawaiileena)

    I’m so happy you loved this book, Giselle. I agree that the brilliance was on the well-written multiple POVs. You hit the nail on the head with that one! This was was really raw and beautiful, because it pushes you to think hard about how easy it is for everyone to distort and twist the truth in order to save your head or for your benefit. It’s sad we always have to stay vigilant when it comes to this, because it should never be a cause of concern :(

    I also loved how the romance was so subtle yet so impactful at the same time. I really wish we got to see more of Alice, though!
    Faye D’Social Potato (@kawaiileena) recently posted…ARC Review: We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBrideMy Profile

  7. Laura Plus Books

    Even though I’ve seen this book around heaps, for some reason, I’ve never actually bothered to see what it was about. Now that I do know, i really really want to read it! It sounds like something I’d really love and that I’d be able to relate to. I’m really glad you liked it! Amazing review and thank you for sharing! :D

  8. Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure

    I have a buddy read for this book this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it! I don’t see why I wouldn’t like it. Being a contemporary with a valuable message (my favorite kind of book) already makes me think it’s a great read. I love to hear that the characters are still well developed. Short books tend to feel so underdeveloped, so I stay away from most of them. Great review, Giselle! I’m glad I read it because I’m even more excited to read this one now. :)
    Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure recently posted…Class of 2014 Day 2 ~ Ella MartinMy Profile

  9. Holly U

    I LOVED this book! It was so very well-written. I love how the author tackled the sensitive subjects, especially the bullying (which made me hurt for Alice). I was unsure how I’d feel about the 4 POVs, but they were all separate characters with their own personalities. I agree with you about the ending though; I was expecting much more out of it and much more out of Alice’s POV. But I still loved the story, and I thought it had a powerful message. It was a realistic portrayal of high school, the good and bad.
    Holly U recently posted…NERC Review #20: Rules of Survival by Jus AccardoMy Profile

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