Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Publication Date:  June 3rd, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Rating: Four Stars

Summary: 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.

Review: I’m going to start off by saying that I think books like this are incredibly important.

Sometimes I feel as though everyone ‘knows’ that teenagers can be horrible, awful bullies, but that a lot of people in our society don’t really worry or think much about it unless they happen to be a parent, teacher or administrator involved.

Fun fact about me: I was going to be a teacher. So things that happen to and affect kids are pretty important to me. I was bullied as a kid, too, so I remember clearly what it’s like to be made fun of and be the outcast. Luckily enough, though, I was able to avoid that role when I was in high school - maybe our school was fairly tame in that respect, but I missed out on the gossip and vicious innuendo that I could have been subjected to.

This book plunges into what it can be like for some teenagers, taking us on a journey that is by turns painful and frustrating, that can both anger a reader and make them sad. I know for myself I winced and shook my head a few times reading this book.

The author writes in alternating points of view, which may really deepen the experience of the book, for some. The story unfolds as we move from person to person, learning more and more, and at the same time we’re taken into the heads and lives of several teenagers. Friends of Alice, enemies, casual acquaintances, enemies, admirers - they all weave the story for us.

Thoughts, dreams, friendships are all spilled out onto the page along with petty grievances and hurts, decisions that come to have enormous consequences. It’s a look into just what it’s like to be a teen and I think it paints a good picture that just might not be that far off from explaining some of those articles about bullying we’ve all read. Who hasn’t read one of those and thought ‘how can these people be so cruel?’ Well, this book attempts to explain that.

I found the book pretty powerful, in part because there are no one dimensional notes, no caricatures. You may find yourself disgusted with a choice or thought process on one page, but on the next you’re given insight into why and how that person arrived there. You slip on their shoes and walk in them a bit and come away with a better understanding.

Some may find the conclusions just a little too pat, as though the book ran out of steam towards the end - I know I questioned a few things that happened. Overall, though, I think it’s a good look at an important issue that’s affecting a lot of people out there - might be impacting some of the readers this book is aimed at, as well.  

<i>Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided through Netgalley in return for an honest review.</i>  

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