Book Review: The Truth About Alice

Posted June 2, 2014 by Kara in book review / 1 Comment

Book Review:  The Truth About AliceThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press on June 3rd, 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 199
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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.

I feel like there are some books that you just know you’re going to love from the moment you lay eyes on the cover.  The Truth About Alice was one of those books.  Of course, this wasn’t the easiest book to read, but I’m very glad I did.  It was emotional and powerful and impossible to put down.

The thing I loved most about The Truth About Alice was the way the story was told.  Written from the point of view of four of Alice’s classmates, we’re given a look at the motivations of those surrounding the rumors about Alice.  There was Elaine, the queen bee of Healy High and the worst of the worst of Alice’s bully’s.  Through her eyes we are able to see the jealousy and insecurity that comes with being the most popular girl in school.  Then there was Kelsie, Alice’s best friend, and the instigator of some of the worse rumors.  She was a horrible person, and I hated her, even when I could sympathize with the darkest parts of her story.  Her hypocrisy was sometimes too much to stomach.  Josh, Brandon’s best friend, who was there during the car crash that killed Brandon, has his own secrets to hide and his own reasons for starting rumors about Alice.  Finally, there was Kurt, the boy who loved Alice from afar, and slowly got to know the real girl and not his fantasy-Alice.

The thing about these characters is that they all felt real to me.  Mathieu was able to make even the worst people compulsively readable.  Elaine, Kelsie, Josh, and Kurt each had a stereotypical role to play in Healy High, but each of them are much more than the boxes they’re shoved into.  They have secrets and fears and hopes and the author was able to convey this beautifully.  Reading Elaine’s and Kelsie’s perspectives was almost painful sometimes – they did some really fucked up shit to Alice.  I hate to humanize the bullies, but the way it was written was perfect for slowly unraveling the mystery and finally learning the truth about Alice.

When we finally get to hear from Alice herself, in the very last chapter, I really, really loved her voice.  By this time, a lot of time has passed, and Alice is able to start putting her junior year behind her.  I love that her chapter didn’t deal with the rumors, didn’t address the bullshit at all.  Instead, she focused on moving forward.  She wasn’t full of hate, she wasn’t bitter – even though she had every right to be.  Instead, she was hopeful and optimistic and I loved it.

The Truth About Alice is really dark and at times quite disturbing.  It shows the realities of bullying from an unexpected perspective.  It was hard to read, but at the same time, it was even harder to put down.  An absolute must read for all contemporary fans.


One response to “Book Review: The Truth About Alice

  1. I am glad that Alice was finally given a voice at the end – though I admit I almost wish it had come sooner! I agree that the four narrators were all developed very well, but I found myself wishing that I could better understand Alice herself.
    Still, though, I agree that this was a really compelling story, disturbing characters and situations and all!

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