I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Macmillan on June 3, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.
But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?
It's true. Ask ANYBODY.
Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.
In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.
But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.
The structure of this book was perhaps a bit unusual, since we don’t hear from Alice until the very end, but I really loved the way it worked for the story. Each teen involved in this rumor had their own version of the truth about Alice, and through it we also hear their own story. Instead of vilifying the mean girls and the jocks, the different voices gave me a chance to peer into the lives of each character. There is a mystery element to the story, of course, and as the truth is pieced together, I became drawn into the lives of each voice. Everyone in this story had broken places within them, as it is in life, but I think that Kelsie’s voice hit me the hardest. There was such heartbreak, and such tragic acceptance of the heartbreak, that it really took my breath away. I actually wept at one point. It would have been so easy to make a villain out of Alice’s former best friend, but Kelsie proved a perfect contrast to Alice’s determination to stay strong. Kurt was also an intriguing character. He is an outsider in Healy and proves to be Alice’s only friend, but his motivations are complicated, and I liked that he wasn’t made into some sort of hero. In fact, all of the characters, Alice included, were much more that their stereotypes; the popular girl, the jock, and the nerdy outsider all had layers that made them seem very real to me.
As more and more books take on slut-shaming, I see how much the visibility of this issue has changed over the last few years. The Truth About Alice does an excellent job of highlighting the way that male and female sexuality is viewed and how Alice’s self-confidence is twisted into something shameful in the eyes of her peers. As a small town girl myself, I can tell you that the author writes with amazing insight into the pitfalls of small town life. In fact, I think that it can be said that Healy contributes to the story as much as any of the characters do. In a small town there is no real way to disappear, and so Alice is forced to cope as many teens do; in relative silence, but in plain sight. However, even when Alice wasn’t getting to tell her side of the story, I found her presence to be a strong one. It struck me that, in many people’s eyes, her biggest crime was not promiscuity, but being her own person, without apology. The Truth About Alice was a very powerful and engaging look at what it means to tell the truth to yourself, as well as others, and how even when you think there can’t possibly be any secrets, there are plenty of places to hide the things we keep from ourselves. The Truth About Alice stayed with me long after I read it. I think that both adults and teens will be able to relate to the anger, frustration, and ultimate triumph over terrible circumstances.