The Truth About Alice
by Jennifer Mathieu
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. (goodreads.com)
Look at me! Two books read so far this year! And just yesterday, my Goodreads challenge widget was yelling at me; telling me I was already behind schedule to reach my goal of 50 books read for the year. That challenge widget is a bully. It needs to chill out a little. I mean, I get most of my reading done in the summer, so two weeks into the new year, it shouldn’t be all “WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING BUT READING RIGHT NOW? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” Chill out, widget. Chill.
Ok, so I am going to admit that I thought this was a suicide book. You know, a book about suicide. Or depression and stuff. And since I have a (healthy) obsession with mental illness novels, I was very interested in reading it. I have been wanting to read The Truth About Alice for a while now, but since I wasn’t really buying books last year, I didn’t. My library did not have it in their system. But then I got gift cards for Christmas (yay!) and so the book buying, I had been avoiding for most of 2014, was happily reactivated in 2015. Woo!
Thing is, this book is NOT a suicide book. (Spoiler? I guess not. I mean, it’s not like I’m ruining any part of the plot. It’s not part of the plot at all.) It is a book about bullying though. And I also like to read about those stories, too.
I realize this makes me sound… crazy? Or something. But really, when I am in certain moods, I find books about these subjects slightly comforting. It’s like listening to sad songs when you’re, well, sad. You just wallow and let your emotions run rampant. It’s freeing. It might be a little Emo, but whatever. It’s better than holing up in a dark room and hiding from the world. I was in a sunny, living room, surrounded by my husband and fluffy dogs and reading. It was cathartic.
The other thing about this book is that it is told in multiple points of view. Not something I normally care for, but a) this caught me my surprise (because I don’t read reviews anymore, and just pick books up when I read a summary that clicks with me) and b) I realized very quickly that I liked the flow of the story from the points of view of the characters.
Four characters. None of them Alice herself.
The popular girl.
Alice’s best friend, and in the popular crowd.
The best friend of the popular boy who died.
The weird, genius kid that no one ever speaks to.
And they all talk about Alice. They tell you their versions of her story. And I can hear each individual so clearly through their chapters. I found them all believable. I could actually see this happening and how it happened, and why it happened.
Teenagers are shallow creatures. Social status is often way more important that long-lasting friendships. Meaningful relationships. Teenagers are cruel. Teen girls are mean. Teen boys can be hurtful.
Anyone can be a bully. Anyone can be a friend. Anyone can be an enemy – even if there’s no reason to be an enemy. Sometimes teen years are a constant battle between opposing forces that appear and disappear overnight. Jealousy, insecurity, pride, are all accelerants in the explosive fires of teenage drama. And sometimes there are innocent casualties.
So, yeah. I did think this was a book about suicide. Especially since the story is told by everyone except Alice. So I was expecting the worst and yet… the story has an ending I wasn’t thinking I was going to get. And it surprised me. And it made me sit back, close the book, and say out loud, “Huh.”
This was a quick read; it’s not a very long book, but it’s one I enjoyed. It makes me happy when I start the year with books that really click with me. Especially when I have been so meh about books lately. I have had such trouble with stories holding my attention. So these two books I have finished since January 1st? They make me happy.
Which is why I wanted to blog about them.
PS – I found it immensely weird to be reading a book about a town with my last name. Seriously. That is highly unusual.