Thursday, May 29, 2014

ARC Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (June 3, 2014)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: This book was a close look at the grittier side of teenage life and life in a small town. Alice becomes the target of an ever-escalating series of rumors. She slept with two boys at one party. She caused the death of the star quarterback Brandon. She had an abortion. At least, that's what the rumors say.

We learn about Alice through four viewpoints.

Elaine is the queen bee of the junior class of the school. She is also jealous of Alice because her off-again, on-again boyfriend Brandon is interested in her. She is also jealous that Alice is more attractive than her and doesn't have a mother who is constantly taking her to Weight Watchers.

Kelsie is Alice's former best friend but Kelsie's desire to be part of the in-crowd and another secret she is keeping make it easy for her to turn on Alice.

Josh is the wide receiver to his best friend Brandon's quarterback. They spend their time drinking, hanging out, and chasing girls though Brandon definitely catches more. His guilt over his own part in the car accident that kills Brandon makes it easy for him to blame texts from Alice.

Kurt is the weirdo loner who has always loved Alice from afar. Sometimes Brandon would hang around with him. But his genius IQ and social awkwardness make him an observant outsider in the town. When everything falls apart for Alice, Kurt is the only one who pays attention to her.

We learn about Brandon through these four viewpoints too. And he doesn't come off as a particularly admirable character. He was a football star but he was also the kind of guy who will sleep with any girl who catches his eye and use his sports status to get out of any trouble.

The one viewpoint that we don't get until the end of the book is Alice's. I can't begin to imagine how it was for a girl who already has a neglectful mother and an absent father to deal with this sort of gossip and innuendo. She is a really strong person that I would have liked to get to know better.

Because the story is written from the first person in each of these viewpoints, it took me a while to get over the teen speak - the hyperbole, the conviction that the whole world revolves around them, the acknowledgement of fault without any indication of a need to change. Thoughtful readers will enjoy this glimpse into these kids' lives and will be thinking about the choices they made for a long time.

Favorite Quote:
We haven't had some blow up or some drama-filled fight or anything. Nothing like that. Just little by little, Alice Franklin was my best friend and then she was my friend and then she was sort of my friend and now I guess she isn't my friend at all.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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