Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice - Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Genre: YA, contemporary
Published on June 3, 2014
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 199
Read From: 6.13.14 - 6.14.14

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.  
But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?  
It's true. Ask anybody! 
Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control. 
In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students - the girl who had the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door - tell all they know. 
But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end, there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like the cover art. It scream contemporary (which it is), but I like it. It caught my attention, for whatever reason, and held it.

Characters: I really did not feel sorry for anyone in this book. Elaine is a typical popular girl; the only reason I did not dislike more than the others is because she didn't really start any of the rumors; she took what everyone else was saying and spreading it. Yes, that's as bad as being the perpetrator, but at least she didn't know what she was saying wasn't true. I still didn't like her, though, because I simply found nothing sympathetic about her. I was fairly indifferent to Josh, the survivor of the car crash and Brandon's best friend. He was responsible for one part of the nasty rumors, true, but I mostly ignored him. I disliked Kelsie the most. She's the former best friend who threw her friendship with Alice away simply so she could be accepted by the popular girls. As a person who suffered from peer pressure myself, and didn't give in, I have a hard time feeling bad for anyone who does. Especially if it makes one throw away one's friends. Keslie is also responsible for one of the worst rumors, not to mention a lot of bad decisions she herself makes. More on that later. I liked Kurt, the next-door neighbor boy, pretty well. He was nice to Alice, genuinely cared about her, made the most sensible decisions. As for Alice herself . . . I was divided. Alice certainly didn't deserve the rumors that were started up about her - not at all. But she wasn't exactly a total innocent. She did things that made it easy to believe that she would sleep with two guys in one night. It was a case of "I feel sorry for you in this particular situation, but you kind of set yourself up for it." Call that cold-hearted, but that's how I felt.

The Romance: There is no real romance in this; just lots of teen angst and lust. Kurt's feelings for Alice are the only things that felt even slightly genuine.

Plot: When Elaine has a crazy party at her house one night, it's the beginning of some vicious rumors - that may or may not be true. Alice Franklin has always been one of those girls that was considered popular without being an actual part of the popular crowd. She's done crazy things, has a head for style, and just has a way about her. But then it comes out that Alice slept with two guys at Elaine's party. Suddenly she's labeled as a slut, and when Brandon gets into a car crash because he was supposedly sexting Alice, that just puts Alice's reputation totally over the edge. Soon Healy High is swirling with rumors about Alice. But what is the truth? Only Alice knows. This is a book totally filled with teen angst, characters you really don't feel sorry for, and other high school drama. It also tackles a lot of serious topics, and no, it doesn't really have a huge, big overall point. However, it's a very short book and it does get you thinking. What motives people to start nasty rumors about others? How is it that rumors spiral out of control? What damaging effect can rumors have?

Believability: No complaints.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. There's dueling narrations between four people: Elaine, the popular girl who had the party; Kelsie, Alice's former best friend; Josh, Brandon's friend and the survivor of the car crash; Kurt, the nerdy boy who has always had a crush on Alice. And then, finally, the very last chapter is told from Alice's point of view. The dueling narrations were very interesting. We got to see events from various points of view, we got to know their motivations, and we got to see how hypocritical they really were. The style itself wasn't bad. Everyone had a fairly distinctive narrative voice, though Kelsie and Elaine did sometimes blend together. Kurt's narration had some very odd similes, examples of which I have put below:

I remember catching a glimpse of her knees as she knelt down. They were like two peach-flavored candies. (pg. 35) 
Her full lips looked like two fresh strawberries, one sitting on top of the other. (pg. 83) 
Her cheeks - her perfect cheeks- pinked up like two bowls of strawberry ice cream. (pg. 87)

No, the entire writing isn't like that; I think Kurt just has some very weird obsession with food - and strawberries.

Content: 17 s-words, 3 f-words. Sex is talked about a lot - Kelsie has sex with someone, Kelsie talks about how Alice did a "blow job" on a guy once, et cetera. [Spoiler] Kelsie has an abortion. This is what made me dislike her so much. Yes, her mother is somewhat at fault; she's the one who takes Kelsie to the abortion clinic and tells her to do it. But I'm pretty darn sure that no one - not even your parents - can actually legally force you to have an abortion. I could not like Kelsie even a little bit after she murdered her child. I don't care if she was scared or confused; she slept with a guy and got pregnant and then killed it. It's inexcusable. [End spoiler] It's also hinted at that Josh is gay, but the Author never actually says it outright.

Conclusion: I picked this book up because I had a suspicion about the "truth about Alice." And I was right. It totally made this book worth reading, even if I didn't really like anyone. But I'm not convinced that you are supposed to like anyone; they are all hypocrites, after all, except maybe Kurt. For a contemporary, I found it interesting; much like Love Letters to the Dead. It was a short read, made me think, and wiled away a few hours.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, eighteen-and-up, for people who like very serious, non-fluffy contemporary novels.


  1. Dear Mara,

    I honor you for standing for the right of babies to live.

    Abigail Leskey

    1. Thank you, Abigail. It's something I believe passionately in.


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