The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Publish Date: June 3, 2014
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon
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. (Goodreads)
There are six characters that make appearances in the story: Alice, Brandon, Josh, Elaine, Kelsie, and Kurt. In this group of people, there are popular people and unpopular people – some would do anything to hold onto the popularity that they have now, including walk away from a best friend that needs them now more than ever before. In this group of people, there are people that are comfortable with their sexuality and people that are struggling with sexuality, virgins and non-virgins, and people that are not really ready to pursue a sexual relationship at this point in their lives. Some of them feel pressured sexually, some do not. In this group of people, there are some that seem to give no thought whatsoever to the fact that words can crush the human spirit, so they use them flippantly and without caution. Sadly, there are some in this mix think about whether or not gossip is a bad idea, but they still do it, and there are also some that rise above it. This is a mixed group of young people, but they are all tied together by the one person at the center of the vicious rumors: Alice Franklin.
The two big rumors that started the whole thing — that Alice slept with two guys at one party and that Alice was sending inappropriate text messages to Brandon when he died in a car accident — those are bad enough, but the way these rumors spread and multiply is just horrific. The way that this story illustrates HOW this happens, the thought processes that these characters have, the way these people rationalized why they spread this gossip, it is just hard to read – hard, because at some point in our lives, we all are at the icky end of gossip and it never feels good. This is a vicious gossip, though, and the bullying toward Alice is basically nonstop once it starts. But it is also fascinating, really, because it is SO VERY REAL. This is real life, and it is what happens every day to people and by people, and even though this book is a YA contemporary book, this is very much a HUMAN problem, not necessarily a young adult problem. It was easy to imagine this as a situation happening to people that I know or have heard about because it felt so realistic and true.
I love what Jennifer Mathieu did here. I love the way she structured this story: four POV’s telling the story of these six people, centering it around Alice. Did Alice do these things or not? Or how much of this stuff is true? As a reader, I was captivated by these pages, and it felt so strange to me. I wanted to know how things would turn out for Alice, because she was going through some sad changes as the entire school began to turn against her — after all, she was totallyyyy responsible for the death of Healy High’s greatest quarterback e-varrrr. But I was also so very mesmerized by the thoughts of these other students, these people that were stuck on talking about Alice! They spent such an unbelievable amount of time thinking about her and talking about her to one another and in their own inner dialogue – their insecurity was astounding, and it felt sad and pathetic. But I think it was also so very accurate based on my own high school experience, which is why I think this book is so incredible.
I have to admit to wondering about some of Alice’s behaviors – I wanted her to take more action against the people that were bullying her…but I had to remind myself that unless I’ve been in that situation, I have no idea what I would do. I had to stop judging Alice early in the story because she went through so much as a character.
ALSO: there is a heartwarming plotline involving Alice and one of the other characters. Very quirky interactions, very slow and intentional, very fun. I held my breath throughout this character’s point-of-view, all the way until the end, because I wanted good resolution for these two.
GOSH, this is such a great book. Young girls NEED to be reading this book – and young boys too, because this book has young boy characters. It has no gender. Parents need to be reading this book, for obvious reasons. Teachers and school administration need to be reading this book so they can look out for the behaviors and changes that occurred with these students. Basically, anyone that has anything to do with young people could benefit from reading a book about bullying, don’t you think?
I recommend The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu to everyone. Every. One. I realize that issues contemporaries aren’t the type of book that everyone likes to read, but I’m not sure that everyone has that luxury – if we are in positions to work with young people and have young people in our lives, we need to be reading amazing work like this. Outside of that, this book is just a flat-out incredible story, and I love the way that this author did it. I was brought to my knees and I have her next book, Devoted, on my nightstand. I honestly don’t know why I waited so long to pick this one up, but I’m so glad I did.
Romance: No triangle, slowly-developing.
Issues: Bullying, Gossip
Jennifer Mathieu’s Books: