Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mini review: The Truth about Alice - Jennifer Mathieu

My mini review of The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, a young adult contemporary novel narrated by four teenagers who all have different opinions on the bullying and slut-shaming of their classmate, Alice Franklin, published by Roaring Brook Press on June 3, 2014.
The Truth about Alice - Jennifer Mathieu | Goodreads
Source: ARC

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.


1. For those of you who might be concerned about reading this because it seems too dark -- I'd say worry not. It is a book with an important message and it is dark at times, but there's a story line running parallel everything bad being said about Alice. And that story line is brilliant, beautiful, and speaks to the power of second chances and acceptance. It has its humor and makes the book less depressing to read while still adding onto the layers of discussion.

2. Again to those of you who might be concerned -- worry not because the book is well-written, paced well, and a short, quick read with important messages. The pacing is brilliant. Jennifer Mathieu nailed the voices of all these individual teens. There are a lot of PoVs, but I never once questioned whose PoV I was reading. The writing was easy to read and smooth. The writing helps make this book a quick read, which is excellent because it has a lot of discussion starters without those dragging the book down.

3. It's true that the characters have a bit of that stereotypical edge - the synopsis describes them that way too. But Mathieu did a great job at making these characters and the setting come to life regardless. Further into the book, the characters come into their own while still remaining the type that feel realistic, that you might meet a block away from your house. Mathieu even humanizes Brandon Fitzsimmons and makes him seem realistic, and I hated that douchecanoe (though he's not alone in the shaming process).

4. And last but definitely not least, this is a seriously important book to read. At the time that I am writing this, #YesAllWomen is still going strong on twitter. One of the tweets constantly seen is that if a woman says no, she's called a bitch; if she says yes, she's called a slut. This book is a good primer to starting the discussion on this with young adults. It tackles bullying, slut-shaming, and the social strata of high school. Second chances, the effects our words have with and without our full knowledge. Everyone seems to notice Alice's big boobs and her raspberry colored lips. She's still not asking for anything either.

11 comments:

  1. I posted my review of this book today too! I completely agree with everything you wrote. I was surprised by how much I loved this book, I really wasn't expecting to and I kept putting off reading it, to be honest. Everyone should read it (especially teenage girls). Great review! ~Pam

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  2. I knew that this books was awesome and that I wanted to read this, but I wasn't sure it was that awesome. Great Review. I'm really looking forward to this. :)

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  3. Me too! It'd been so long since I'd requested the book that I couldn't quite remember why I had, but I kept seeing lots of praise for it from other bloggers, and sounds like that turned out well for both of us :). I'm glad you enjoyed the book too!

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  4. Nice review! I just got this today in the mail, actually, and I'm super excited to read it. It reminds me of that old Ally Sheedy line from The Breakfast Club.

    C.J.

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  5. Agreed! I thought the message here was an important one. The stereotypical roles were the only thing I was meh about. I think they made sense in the story but the roles were a bit predicatable.

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  6. Yay, Andie! I hope you enjoy the book :). Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Amazing how a movie made a while ago still reflects our reality today as women. That's effed up. I hope you like The Truth about Alice - let me know your thoughts when you finish!

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  8. ^^ I agree. I do think she managed to go outside of the stereotypical roles for some of the characters, though. Like, for example, even though Brandon was the spoiled jock douchebag, I thought his relationship with Kurt gave him more depth than that role :).

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  9. Seriously. Finished! The writing was a little simple for my taste, but I enjoyed the story as a whole. It was a good read and a sadly realistic one.

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  10. Honestly, this wasn't a book I thought I'd pay much attention to - it didn't sound entirely like my sort of read - but the reviews have been really encouraging and I'm actually quite curious now. I'm glad to hear that there is a positive thread running alongside the darker, heavier elements of the book. And also pleased that the different perspectives are well written. Great review, Christina!

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  11. The reviews were really encouraging! Lots of 5 stars from my blogging friends too, and this book is a great one to read for the topic it discusses. Easier than a lot others with that issue, too, to read. I hope you end up enjoying if you pick it up :)

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