Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The_Truth_About_Alice_CoverTitle:  The Truth About Alice

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Published: June 3rd 2014 (Roaring Brook Press)

Pages: 208

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Social Situations

Format: Hardback

Source: Borrowed

Rating: Four Stars

Goodreads Summary:

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 that 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 has 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.

Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover Thoughts: I like how the girl on the cover is simply an outline with words all around her. I can feel the pain the main character has. I love how the title forms inside her body with the insults in the back.

First Line: I, Elaine O’Dea am going to tell you two definite, absolute, indisputable truths.


~Review~

In The Truth About Alice, the plot revolves around the rumors surrounding what happened at Elaine’s party involving Alice. Alice is believed to have slept with not one, but two guys, Brandon and Josh . This happens over the summer and by the time school starts again for the students, the rumor has mostly been forgotten. After Brandon dies though, Alice is believed to have played a part in his death. This leads to more backlash from the old rumor in addition to the new one about Brandon’s death.

I love how we saw the rumors expand from just one thing someone said to someone else, to the major thing it becomes throughout The Truth About Alice. At various points in The Truth About Alice, even the adults believe the rumors which I thought was crazy. It makes sense though, when readers think about the small town they live in. Everyone knows everyone and you can find yourself in the spotlight with a wrong move. There’s one incident in The Truth About Alice which really sets off the slut shaming involving a bathroom stall, which ironically enough, Alice’s ex best friend ends up doing. This, in a way, launches the entire school against Alice.

The closest thing I can compare The Truth About Alice to would be the movies Easy A, because of the slut shaming and rumors and Fast Times of Ridgemont High, because of the realism it showed for high schoolers. I like that The Truth About Alice tackled slut shaming in a realistic way.

The Truth About Alice deals with other high school aspects than slut shaming such as texting and driving, rumors, drinking and peer pressure. I felt The Truth About Alice showed all of these things very realistically.

There are four main narrators in The Truth About Alice. The first is the party thrower, Elaine, who’s rich, pretty and popular and was involved in an on-again, off-again relationship with Brandon. Elaine was a terrible character who I mostly despised throughout the book. I didn’t like her at all much until the end of The Truth About Alice.

The second character we’re introduced to is Josh, Brandon’s best friend and football jock. I thought Josh was an interesting character, he was under pressure for being in football, dealing with his best friend’s death and the part he played in Alice’s rumor.

Then there is Kelsie, Alice’s ex-best friend who wants to remain popular with Elaine. My feelings for Kelsie were up and down, I initially hated her because of her icing out Alice to remain popular. One of her plots involved The Really Awful Stuff which she references multiple times and partially blames Alice for it. I thought her reason for blaming Alice was really ridiculous and over the top. She was a bit of a dramatic character who blew up small things.

Finally there’s Kurt, the slightly nerdy guy who lived next door to Brandon. Kurt also has had a crush on Alice for years. We learn that Kurt knows the truth about Alice through Brandon himself. I loved the addition of this in the story.

What I liked about Kurt is that although he’s an outsider, it’s by choice. I like that he isn’t the typical nerd who’s bullied and didn’t mind being left alone. Although I felt the romance in The Truth About Alice was unnecessary and predictable, it helped delve more into Alice’s character through someone who interacted with her rather than just believed rumors. He seemed the most evolved out of the four.

Brandon himself was an okay character. I really liked him in the beginning, but that ended up changing twice in the novel. I love the interesting conversation he and Josh have the night he dies. It was shocking and I thought it was going to go a different way than it had.

While some of these characters definitely fit the usual high school stereotypes, Mathieu expanded their characters and gave each of them depth. I loved how Mathieu was careful when creating these characters so they weren’t one dimensional people I didn’t grow attach too.

My favorite thing about these characters is that Mathieu did make a lot of them unlikeable. I found myself hating Elaine, Kelsie, Josh and even Brandon at times.

The other key character in The Truth About Alice is Alice herself, who we see mostly only through the eyes of the narrators.The alternate viewpoints were nice to see because I saw other people’s perspectives.

It was interesting to see how the characters viewed her after the rumor and what part exactly they may or may not have had in it. Alice’s behavior seemed really realistic and heartbreaking. After the rumors spread, she was withdrawn and quiet to everyone. She never hung around school longer than she had to. It was sad to see how a girl who was pretty popular and liked in her school, quickly became the school slut and shamed all because of a couple rumors.

The Truth About Alice is slightly non-linear as the novel jumps around from each character. As always, I liked that we learn a little about the narrators experiences and home life. That helped make the characters more real to me. I enjoyed the flashbacks that were in the book as it helped fill in the blanks I had while reading.

We learn the characters goals, what they struggle with, and pieces of their past. I was most interested in Kelsie’s past involving The Really Awful Stuff, which was really awful.

I thought using the different perspectives in The Truth About Alice worked really well because we see how everything happened and the different thoughts all the characters had. By the time we reach the end, I was practically in tears. I think this book has a lot to say about society. Specifically about how much damage rumors can cause, how in high schools, guys are glorified for sleeping around and don’t get nearly the same backlash as females, sometimes even praised, but the slightest rumor about a woman can ruin her entire reputation. The slut shaming was done in a believable way. I loved that the topic of this book is slut shaming because that’s a topic, readers don’t find too often in literature. This was a powerful book and I wish it were longer.

At the end of The Truth About Alice, there is no parade for Alice, no one suddenly forgets the rumors about her and let her back into the popular group and I love that. I like how real it was that there is no true satisfaction perfect ending for Alice. There will still be struggles with her and not many people know the truth about it all. There may even be trouble trying to convince people of the truth about Alice. I rate this book four stars out of five because the length was a bit short and I didn’t know Alice as much as I wish I did and I would have liked. I’ll definitely be looking forward to Mathieu’s future works. 

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About Amber (YA Indulgences)

Amber is a 20-something woman who enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks. She has a book blog called YA Indulgences . She is still trying to figure out what she's doing with her life, but she's confident that time will tell. In the meantime she's heading towards the goal of becoming a renowned blogger. View all posts by Amber (YA Indulgences)

4 responses to “Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

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