Title: The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publisher: Roaring Book Press (Macmillan)
Acquired Via: Publisher
Release Date: July 1, 2014
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.
First things first, I want to disclose that I've been past my teenage years longer than I was a teenager. Therefore, Jennifer Mathieu's debut, The Truth About Alice, didn't really affect me greatly like most of the reviews that I've seen. Or maybe it was because I went to school in a small town like Healy with a bunch of catty people and found myself just saying, "Yep, that's pretty much what happens." However, the longer it took me to write this review, the more I "got" the novel.
The Truth About Alice is told through several different points of view. Elaine is one of the most popular girls in school and was on-again/off-again with Brandon Fitzsimmons. Josh was Brandon's wide receiver and best friend. Kelsie is on the edge of popularity and was Alice Franklin's best friend up until the infamous party at Elaine's. Kurt is the smart kid that exists outside of social circles and lived next door to Brandon from kindergarten. These characters take turns telling how their town slaps a scarlet letter on Alice and what their parts are in her social downfall. They are also able to tell a story about bullying at its very finest. (Please note the sarcasm there.)
This book is absolutely about bullying and what happens when no one steps forward to stop it, but it also shows the pain of teenagers and the difficult time they have expressing and venting their problems in a proper outlet. All of the characters who have points of view in The Truth About Alice are hurting to some extent over the death of Brandon. They are also unwilling to take ownership of what they themselves have done wrong and project those issues onto Alice and punish her for their conflicts. I won't say more, but any one of the teens in this book, or a parent, could have stepped in and headed this off
As for the story itself and the writing, it did drag for me a bit. I did not have an emotional connection with any of the characters, but I think I felt the most for Kelsie. I understand a lot of her pain and where she is coming from because I had a friend like her. I pitied her. I also didn't feel that anyone in this book was a villain. They said and did some pretty rotten things, but I don't feel like they had enough emotional maturity to understand the scope of how they allowed the situation to get out of hand.
I think The Truth About Alice can remind us older people of what it was like to be a teenager, and it shows young people that they are not alone. I think reading this book can remind all of us how important it is to show kindness to everyone, no matter if they are being mistreated by the majority of people. The Truth About Alice isn't the easiest book to read because of the situation, but I think teenagers and their parents will do well to pick it up.
Because I loved it so much, here is the cover of the ARC of The Truth About Alice that I received. I think it worked nicely for the book, as well as the final cover. You can let me know which cover you like best in the comments.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.