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.The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Book Press on June 3rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
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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 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.
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