Monday, July 14, 2014

The Truth About Alice ~ Jennifer Mathieu (earc) review [@jenmathieu @MacKidsBooks]

The Truth About Alice
Roaring Brook Press
June 3, 2014
208 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

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.

In The Truth About Alice, Alice's story is told to us through four different narrators: Elaine is the popular girl, Josh the football star, Kurt the nerdy outcast and Kelsie's Alice's best friend.

They're only too ready to tell the 'truth' about Alice, "Because Alice Franklin is a slut." But is that the true truth?

Each has their own part to play in both the story being told and in Alice's life.

While the characters roles are very stereotypical (popular, mean girl; best friend; jock; nerd) Mathieu makes them much more than that. They tell us about Alice, we're also getting their stories. As the story unfolds, we get more and more of a glimpse not only into who Alice was and is, but what happened to start the rumors and what is currently happening.

Having multiple narrators really works here because we see 'the truth about Alice' from multiple perspectives, but also because those narrators are well developed characters. Teenagers in a small town, where most of them have lived their whole lives, they are both a product of the 'everybody knows everybody and their business' society - and contributors to it.

We see how their own struggles, with those things that make them so much more than stereotypes or merely characters fitting into a role, and how, at times, that affects Alice and how they treat her. The rumors, the actions taken, are abhorrent to be sure. Yet, the more we get to know the other characters, read their stories, the more human it all feels. Even while you sympathize for Alice, you can understand why the others are doing what they are.

Mathieu's not writing them as flat perpetrators both makes you feel for them and feel even more for Alice.

The Truth About Alice has flawed, troubled characters with their own pain and turmoil; characters who aren't dealing with things as they should. And that makes it feel all the more real. This debut novel is a fantastic read with greatly written characters and an all too real storyline.

(On a side note: do any parents actually buy Natty Light?)

Another book you may also enjoy: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

received from publisher via NetGalley for review - thank you

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