by Jennifer Mathieu
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (June 3, 2014)
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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.Review by Claudette Melanson, Author. You can find my site and blog here. Thank you so much to Andye for providing the ARC copy and allowing a spot to be heard on her blog!!
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.
The Truth About Alice is a quick, 199-page read centering around the fallout caused by gossip in a small town. The story is told from multiple points of view by four Healy High School students: the most popular girl in school, an ex best friend, one of the ‘stars’ on the football team and your stereotypical, brainy geek. The story unfolds from these four angles, recounting the span of time surrounding two explosively scandalous events in Healy, Texas. Rumor has it Alice Franklin slept with two guys, in the same night, at a party thrown by one of the narrators. When one of these boys dies in a car accident, another story circulates—one placing blame with Alice for the cause of his death. But are the rumors true? Do any of the players have something to gain for casting Alice in such a negative light? And what is the price Alice will have to pay once the rumors start flying?
What I Liked:
I really did enjoy this book. Mathieu does an effective job of making a particular situation look one way, only to discover there is much more to it than what the reader originally thought. I enjoy books that have the power to change your opinion of the characters and plot elements as you go along. The author also painted a realistic picture in the mind of just how much Alice was hurt by the events that play out. I really could feel her pain and pitied her….immensely. Another believable element for me was the whole high school world and how status can determine what people believe, as well as the way it influences the way they treat others. High school can be a shallow, little world of its own, and this novel captures that, completely. The ending was gold for me. I think the author makes a real statement about the kinds of people who end up succeeding in the real world—the one that lies outside the bubble of high school.
As far as character development goes, there is no better way to get to know them than the way Mathieu presents them here. The reader learns more and more with each chapter, and I had my mind changed about some of them more than once as I went along:
Elaine—The popular girl. The one all the boys want. She was so self-centered, I was sure there would be nothing about her I could like. But Mathieu surprised me with my duality regarding her character with a side story involving Elaine’s mother. I found her Weight Watchers references highly amusing, also.
Josh—I really didn’t think there was much to Josh. I’ve known boys like him, and I wasn’t far off the mark. But it turns out there are some hidden reasons behind some of the things Josh does—not enough to make me like him very much, but he has a couple of secrets that are interesting at the very least. I liked the very subtle way one of them is just hinted at.
Kelsie—The betrayer. I wanted to slap her much more than once. There are revelations about Kelsie that make you pity her…just a little bit. But the atrocities she commits and the vaporous reasons behind them caused me to have very little empathy for what she suffers. Her problems are mainly caused by her lack of any real backbone and a complete inability to stand up for herself—or anyone else.
Kurt—Kurt was my favorite character. He had character. And even though a little bit of fear caused him to make a bad decision, he still always tried to make things right and his behavior wasn’t based on one iota of worry over how it might affect his social status.
What I Liked Less:
I can’t really say there was anything I hated about this book. There were things the characters did that I disliked…but that’s not the same thing. At first, the language bothered me. The dialogue is very ‘clean,’ especially when it comes to teenagers, but it does take place in a small town, in the Bible Belt, so it’s not impossible for the language to be so mild. But I have to admit that at times I found it strange…or maybe it’s just not what I’m used to. There were also a few times I felt that the four characters had too much of the same tone and not enough ‘voice’ to set them apart from the other three. That said, it is a huge challenge to write in multiple points of view and Matheiu does it well enough to make it a good read.
On my site, my rating system is in blood drops and I would give it 4 drops:
4 Blood Drops - Very good. It would definitely tear me away from the vampire movie I have playing on Netflix & keep me coming back for more!