Written by: Jennifer Mathieu
Publication Info: June 3, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
Review Copy: Galley from www.netgalley.com
Recommendation: Definitely worth the read
Brief Summary: What is the truth about Alice Franklin? Everybody in the small town if Healy, Texas, knows all about Alice and everything she’s done. She’s that wild high school girl, the one who slept with two guys at the end-of-summer party. And now one of those guys – the most popular guy in school - is dead, and it’s all Alice’s fault. Clearly. Four very different people from Alice’s high school, including her former friends, tell us exactly what we need to know about Alice Franklin, and how they treat her. But is it really Alice they’re talking about?
Thoughts: The Truth About Alice is a quick, engrossing read, one that tells us how the little lies we tell about others (and ourselves) can cause real damage. Alice is branded a slut, ostracized from her high school, and her treatment shows both the hypocrisy of the way we treat women in our society and the way we allow gossip, hearsay,
Kelsie is also quick to separate herself from Alice when she feels like Alice is not going to be popular anymore, but we see later one that most of what Kelsie does and says has nothing to do with Alice and everything to do with Kelsie’s own internal struggles. The same is true for the other characters, and this is an important lesson for teens: most of the bullying and meanness directed towards Alice has absolutely nothing to do with Alice, or the truth about Alice. Alice, for her part, is a great and inspiring character, because through all of this horrible treatment – including a bathroom stall entirely dedicated to Alice-directed insults – she maintains her strength. She does her best in school, and keeps living her own life, even with the pain. Although we don’t hear from her, we see her doing this; she also learns that she, too, misjudged people, such as the odd-but-brilliant Kurt, and the whole experience opens her eyes up to the ways in which we impact other people in the world, sometimes without knowing it.
The fact that the book is structured as a bit of a mystery is a positive, as we really do want to find out the truth about Alice and what happened to both her and the now-deceased Brandon, as new details about her life emerge. The one flaw is that, while honesty is great, some of the characters seem a bit too self-aware. Kelsie, for example, at times seems to know exactly who she is and why she is doing things, and this seems unrealistic; it’s possible, however, that this is just a cover, as later in the book deeper reasons for her behavior become apparent. Elaine, too, as the popular girl, can be a bit one-note, but has very interesting things to say, especially about how she hates that people fault her for wanting to stay in the town she loves, when if she were born and raised in New York City, everyone would assume she wanted to stay there. In the end, The Truth About Alice gives honest depictions of the lives of several different types of teens, and suggests that before we really know the truth about someone else, we have to accept the truth about ourselves.
About the Author: From www.goodreads.com: “I'm an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. My debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, will be out in the spring of 2014.
My favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980s sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. I can basically quote every episode.
I live with my husband, son, one rescue dog, one fat cat, and another cat that is even fatter than the fat cat.
When it comes to what I read, I love realistic young adult fiction (duh), creative nonfiction, super scandalous tell-all memoirs and unauthorized biographies, and basically anything that hooks me on the first page.”
More about the author at http://www.jennifermathieu.com/index.html