The Truth About Alice
by Jennifer Mathieu
Expected Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Length: 208 pages
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Obtained Via: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review, and this is no way affects my opinion of the book.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View at the Traffic light:
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.
The Truth About Alice was a tough look into a small Texas high school. Coming from a town(and most likely a high school) similar to the one in the book, The Truth About Alice definitely made me think about things that happened in high school and the way teenagers in my school interacted and related to each other(in both very positive and very negative ways).
The most intriguing aspect of The Truth About Alice is the way it’s narrated. There are four main narrators, each who have a first person point-of-view, and none of them are Alice. Even though she’s the titular character and the person the book is ultimately about, as readers we really only get to see Alice through other people’s eyes until the end of the novel.
Split Point of View is difficult to get right, but I was impressed by the four characters in The Truth About Alice. For the most part, their voices were easily distinguished. I did have a little bit of trouble telling Elaine and Kelsie apart, but as they’re friends in the same social circle and have some similarities, it made sense that their narrative voices would sound fairly similar. I really loved this choice to make each of these four characters reflect and interact with Alice, without ever letting the reader see inside Alice’s head. It made The Truth About Alice actually sort of feel like the small-town gossip train, but in a way that still let you peak at the truth. Because why it’s fairly clear from the outset that Alice didn’t do half the things that are rumored about her, we really get to see why people would create these rumors and how it affects Alice from an outsider’s perspective.
I was so nervous about The Truth About Alice considering the subject matter. I knew this was either going to be a really great, important book, or that it could fall horribly flat. It did NOT fall flat, by the way. The entire book I felt so sympathetic towards Alice and even though it was tough to read at times, I think it was important. Vicious rumors like this happen and it really can ruin someone’s year or complete high school experience.
The way Mathieu wrote the four teenagers who gossiped about Alice(or in the case of Kurt, just interacted with her), was so well-done. I hated Elaine, Kelsie, and Josh at times, but then at other times I wanted to give them a hug too. They were all so well-written and had so much depth. Each of them had their own struggles and even though the things they did or that they said were often horrible, I can’t say that any of them were particularly malicious to the core. Which made the premise of The Truth About Alice all the more heartbreaking. There are these teenagers doing these awful things to Alice, but then you get inside their heads and while you still want to yell at them for their actions, you realize they’re not completely evil or terrible. They’re trying to protect themselves or are lashing out from hurt and anger and unfortunately, Alice takes the fall for it.
Even though it hurt my heart multiple times, I thought The Truth About Alice was an excellent read. It really showed some of the horrible things that these types of rumors and gossip about girls can cause, and also gave insight into multiple characters. I thought all the characters were beautifully written, even if I wanted to smack some of them at times. My only issue is that this book brings up a lot of rumors and eventually the truths about Alice–and all other characters as well. That’s all great, but some of the stories for the other characters weren’t really wrapped up. It just seemed a little much to cram into a short book. That aside, this book was stunning, and I’d gladly hand it to any high school student.
Aside from one complaint, The Truth About Alice did a fantastic job of really examining a small high school and the rumors that circulate about one girl, and how those rumors affect her entire life. There characters were well-written and intriguing, and I thought some of the choices the author made with this book were bold but they were pulled-off extremely well. 4/5 cupcakes.