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Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Book Summary
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.

Since I grew up in a small town, The Truth About Alice takes me back to the days of high school, a time that I have tried so hard to put past me. I wasn't one of the popular kids, but knew everyone. Not that it really mattered because I will admit, I was nose deep in my books so I basically lived in the library which spared me the drama that happens such as in this book. We all knew someone like Alice. Well, you think you do but deep down, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. 

The book was told from the perspective of the popular girl Elaine, the jock Josh, Alice's supposed friend Kelsie and the socially awkward but insanely smart Kurt. For the most part, they all grew up with Alice except Kelsie. She was a transplant in the later years but everyone seemed to have a history with Alice, good and bad. What I liked about this is that you get the full picture by getting to know every side which made it great because through each opinion, you get the whole story. 

It all starts with a rumor, the root of all evil. One summer allegedly, Alice hooked up with a couple of guys from school at a party on the same night. No matter what she says, it must be true because it happened with two popular guys, right? Who's going to dispute them? Well, that was old news supposedly when school starts but when one of them dies in a car wreck, guess who is to blame? Alice. It starts up again with another rumor from a conversation said in confidence but within a matter of time she gets branded as the town trollop and murderer both humiliating and defeating but there is always two sides of the story.

Elaine, I roll my eyes as I talk about her. I think is a little stuck on herself. The world revolves around her, well because she is in the "it" crowd. There is a bit history between her and Alice that stems from way back when. If you ask me, I think she is jealous of Alice but she'd never admit that. She is still harping on something that happened in middle school between her and Brandon. Just an FYI...Brandon is the one who died in the car accident, that just happened to be the star athlete and the over time had an on again and off again thing with her, hence her animosity towards her. As you read about her, you see the roots of why she feels the way she does but if you ask me, she's just a mean girl.

Kelsie, is someone that really pissed me off. She doesn't know the definition of what a friend really is. She is the type of girl that many become in high school. She came from another town where she wasn't popular but the first person she met who became her friend was Alice. I don't know about you but unless you did something really bad, I think there would be this unspoken allegiance that would be bonded. Well, then again this is high school. I guess some people will do anything when you are desperate to be in the "in" crowd. What she does to Alice is so unforgivable and the reasons behind it are just so ridiculous, that we will label her in the you were never my real friend category. 

Josh, well he is one of the athletes that was with Brandon in the car when he was drunk. He was really good friends with him but also remembers moments that brings a different perspective about Alice considering he was part of the popular crowd. I consider him the nice dumb jock. Sorry, well you sort of know what you are going to get when you read him. 

Well, I really liked him. He is one of the people that keeps to himself, extremely shy but really smart. He doesn't really have friends until the opportunity arises when he gets to be around Alice. You really get to know Alice through his perspective which was a nice character to read. We are going to put him in the a really awesome guy who is misunderstood.

I don't want to give too much away but there is so much more to the book that I think would be enjoyable. I know if you read what it's about, it might sound simplistic but it has more depth than it sounds. Reading each person's perspective really enhances the overall feeling of the book. I think the voice of the characters really capture that youthful perspective that a reader who is high school could identify with. Completely relevant to them today, there are great takeaways and reflective moments that make you sit back and think. 

The best part for me which I had to restrain not to do is read the end of the book first. I thought it was clever and brilliant that the book closes with Alice. It was unexpected but I thought it fit the book well to do it this way. She's isn't perfect either but her story is one that should be told. She didn't exactly have the best life but she also didn't deserve what happened to her which her response makes you appreciate how hard it was to work through that sort of experience alone.

Overall, I think it was an engaging read with characters that were diverse but brought came together well for the book. I think with the social climate with rumors and the ramifications of how they can affect people, this would be a great recommendation for high schoolers to see the consequences of how it affects people. If you are YA, fan this would be a fun pick!

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Book Information
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: 6/3/2014
Pages: 208

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