25/10/2014

Review: The Truth About Alice {Jennifer Mathieu}



Written by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone knows Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car. It's true. Ask anybody. Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the bathroom stalls at Healy, and after Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, everyone knows it's Alice's fault. With alternating chapters told from the girl who had the infamous party, the car accident survivor, Alice's former best friend, and the boy next door, we learn everything there is to know about Alice. But what, exactly, is the truth? In the end, there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.
This is an interesting story for anyone who has ever been bullied or been witness to it. Or maybe, even, a part of it. Mathieu shows how quickly rumours can spiral out of control and how someone's life can be ruined by just a few lies.

The Truth About Alice shows us Alice's fall from beloved girl to slut-shamed outcast, blamed for the death of a young football star. Only this fall isn't shown by Alice, but through the eyes of four of her classmates, each with their own contributions to Alice's sinking reputation.

Alice is victimised throughout the entire book, which made the alternating point of views, though interesting, a little hard to stomach because they were all vapid and horrible people. They knew the truth, or at least their own small truths, but instead of speaking out they perpetuated rumours and used Alice as a scapegoat for their own misdeeds. Only one of the four narrators was a decent person, so for 75% of the time, I was glaring daggers at the pages.

  There was also nothing unique or special about these people, and their voices weren't distinct enough to create four individually fleshed out characters. Their point of views all blended together in seamless clichés, sentences riddled with stereotypes.

We are treated to Alice's narrative on the very last chapter, which I thought was a great way to end things. I would've loved to have gotten to know her better though, but her chapter was short and a little facile. Her character wasn't explored enough and I found myself a little disappointed that I didn't get a more in-depth look at the person I was most interested in.

It was nice to see Alice find solace in a loyal friend and see her slowly beginning to build her confidence back up and learn to trust people. It was an ending that gave me hope Alice wouldn't be alone and would be able to overcome everything. That being said, I would've liked a little more justice. There was no comeuppance for the people who wronged Alice, and no sign that there ever would be, which left the ending lacking closure and left me feeling frustrated that everything that happened to Alice would only be resolved through time.

The Truth About Alice is an intense and gritty exploration of bullying and shows how quickly teasing can spiral out of control. Behind the cliché characters and surface-deep writing is actually a very powerful message about compassion and strength and learning that every action has a consequence. Though I would've liked the characters to be a little more empathetic and would've preferred an ending that was slightly more just, I appreciate the unique way Mathieu approached the story, which felt both raw and authentic.

"It was like a million paper cuts on my heart."

 
Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart
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42 comments:

  1. This is exactly how I felt about the the book too
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  2. I've been avoiding this book because like you, I'd probably be glaring at it the whole time. And a possible toss at the wall might even occur. But it's interesting to see how a bully's mind works as well, and to get 4 perspectives at once as well. I will definitely get around to it one day! Lovely review Allie :)

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    1. I really enjoyed the approach, because it just reiterates how you hardly ever see the victim's side of things. It's always the perpetrators who get to tell their story!

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  3. Noooooo an open-ish ending. Ah. The bane of my existence, really. I just want something complete. The time will heal thing never sits well with me because I'm left thinking, "but will it?" I like that this one is raw but it's a shame that the characters are lacking in depth. I find it so hard to empathise with the characters in a book when there's not much more to them than the words that fall out of there mouths, you know? Either way, thank you for the FANTASTIC review, Allie! <33

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    1. I wanted the closure, Jess. I'M NEEDY THAT WAY. I wanted some kind of punishment for the others, or at least a hint that the truth was going to come out. But I don't think it ever will, so it seems to be a matter of Alice learning to just overcome it all, which is good in a way but not what I wanted :(

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  4. i am glad there was a good even powerful message behind all the junk of the story. I have seen tons of mixed reviews on this but it is always nice to see those that got the story even if it will never be a favorite.

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    1. I think any book about bullying will leave a lasting impression, simply because it's such an intense and horrible subject. It'd be weird to read one that didn't emphasise how awful it was

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  5. It's a shame that you didn't love this book--I totally see where you are coming from. I didnt like how they were all stereotypical narrators, I mean, can we have some depth?

    Lovely review, Allie! <33

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    1. The lack of depth was my main issue. Everyone was very much surface-deep and not at all unique, which just muted my enjoyment. I think I would've felt more invested in their stories if they were more fleshed out, but as it was I only cared about Alice and couldn't find it in me to care about their individual stories

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  6. Wonderful review, Allie! I definitely want to pick this one up one day, as it sounds as though it might've got bullying right. I know bullying is different for everyone who is a part of it, but there are so many books I've read that breach the topic, and it's obvious that the author doesn't have any experience in the matter. I didn't know that this was told from four different perepctives, none of whom are Alice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope your next read is better. :)

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    1. I haven't read that many myself mostly because it just breaks my heart! it's awful to read about people causing others suffering like that, for nothing else than to feel good about themselves. Some people suck!

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  7. Fantastic review Allie, you echoed my thoughts perfectly! I do think the characters were all cliche and they were all just so horrible and believed everything about Alice. Poor, poor Alice, it really was creative in the way it was told though.

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    1. And they even made up stuff themselves! Especially her 'best friend' MY GOD. That was just so bitchy

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  8. I definitely agree that the characters were extremely stereotyped! Honestly, though I was okay with that on the whole. While the POVs weren't as distinct as I would have liked, it was still interesting seeing the events from all the different perspectives :)

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    1. The different POVs was definitely the best aspect, because it really did mirror the gossip mill and how the victim never gets to tell their side. I just wanted a little more depth from those other characters. Still though, loved the device!

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  9. I read this one a few months ago and couldn't agree more, those characters were nothing more than vapid assholes looking to further their own popularity by treating Alice like crap. Even the 'loyal best friend' I had issues with, he was nice compared to the others, but even he seemed like he was using her. He pounced as soon as she was down and kicked, and didn't really help fight for her. I was really hoping that he would have done more, he was supposed to have loved her from afar for so long after all. I felt so sorry for Alice though, I thought her life was being taken in another direction entirely at one point, because the way she was described was incredibly depressed. I can't imagine anyone living through that kind of treatment at that age. This one hit me hard emotionally and the ending left me upset actually, and like you, without that closure and justice I needed. Awesome review Allie <3 I'm sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this a little more though.

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    1. The best friend was, in so many ways, the worst. She couldn't handle her own life and so dealt with it by projecting her issues onto Alice? It was ridiculously unfounded and effing childish.

      Alice was just scapegoated for every little thing :( I don't even get how she should've been blamed anyway even IF she had sexted Brandon. Why was he texting while driving? Oh, yeah, BECAUSE HE WAS DRUNK. The adults in this book were shameful with their excuses

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  10. I totally agree with very thing you said Allie. Reading this one was a strange experience for me Allie because even though I would have liked to have felt more emotionally impacted by the individual characters and the story I still felt the rawness and truthfulness this story was trying to get across and I was just involved In it you know? LOL I don't know how to explain it! Don't judge me! It's Sunday...who wants to use their brain on a SUNDAY?

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    1. I get you, dude. I GET YA. There was an authenticity that did just shoot through the pages and, hey, maybe the point was we weren't meant to know the narrators well. They were, after all, just the side-show to Alice :)

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  11. I have such mixed feelings about reading this book! I mean, I don't know if I could handle all the awful. I really don't. Especially if these creeps don't get any karmic retribution! But then...I guess they don't always in life either. I appreciate the realism, but I don't think I am up for a depressing story right now! Great review!

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    1. Karma is such a key thing for me and I hated that it never happened here. I think, in a way, it would've made up for all the bad stuff if they got their just-desserts. BUT NOPE. I guess you're right though; that is realistic. In real life, the bad guys don't always get punished

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  12. Oh, that's a good quote you shared. I'm sorry this was difficult to read because of the characters...I am curious about the overall story though.

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    1. It's not one I'd ever tell people not to read, so if you're curious give it a go! It'll be interesting to see if you connect with the characters more than I did

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  13. I really think that even though bullying is such a big issue, what makes it even worse are the rumors. And that's something that can cause trouble and hurt for people who aren't bullied. Idk. I wish rumors didn't exist, but that's an impossible wish really. Anyhow, I'm sorry you didn't find the characters unique or anything remotely close to that. And I'd totally be glaring daggers at the pages too since horrible (supposed to be so though) characters! I'm glad you liked the ending, though I wish for your sake that it would have been longer. I'm glad you liked this as a whole, though sorry it didn't became one of your favorites. Great review as always, darling!

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    1. Rumours are one of the worst part of bullying, because there's no stopping them. Once something is spread around, it's out there and that's going to forever change how people see you. The damage is done. That's one of the things I loved / hated about this; SO MUCH damage was done, and there was no way to fix it

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  14. I don't think I could hack it. This book would depress me, but then, I don't usually read the genre anyway. I'm an escape reader. =)

    Great review!

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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    1. It is quite depressing, especially when you think about how this sort of thing happens all the time in real life :(

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  15. I like that the author took some bold choices by showing this story through the eyes of 4 other people, though it's disappointing that they didn't feel unique and distinct enough. I know that bullying is an important topic, and it sounds like this book brings some harsh reality to that. But I'm not sure I could stomach reading this. Thanks for the review, I didn't know a lot about this one!

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    1. I think it was a bold choice that paid off in a lot of ways, because it was interesting to have antagonists tell the victim's story. I can't think of another book that did that!

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  16. The weird thing about this book was that I felt like I came to know Alice the most. That's strange because you don't get her narrative till the end. Some of the characters were completely horrible, but I thought having their narratives instead of Alice's worked really well. I didn't feel too bad when they didn't really learn anything or get punished, it's more realistic that way and how it plays out all the time.

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    1. Yeah, the characters were horrid, especially Brandon's best friend. That DICK. I honestly felt like I liked him at first and was prepared for him to be the guy that turned out to be really nice, but then the truth about the accident was revealed and I just thought he was the biggest douche.

      The ending was definitely realistic. I guess I just felt so bad for Alice I wanted her to have a HEA

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  17. Yes, I agree very intense read and powerful

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    1. I'm glad I read it, even if it didn't wow me!

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    1. It definitely was. I'd recommend it, because it'll leave a lasting impression even if you don't end up 'enjoying' it that much

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  19. Hmm...I'm not sure what I think about this! One one hand, I love the sound of the powerful message and strong writing; but on the other, I'm concerned about the stereotypical characters. I guess I'll definitely put it on my TBR list, but maybe not as a priority. :) Thanks for sharing Allie and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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    1. I think the stereotypical characters were probably a must for a book like this, because it is about the high school gossip mill. So I guess, the clichés needed to be embraced a bit? IDK, it bugged me, but I can see why it was done. I just guess I wish it was done differently

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  20. I agree the scenes were very vivid and these kids were horrible! I thought it was very realistically portrayed and it basically ripped my heart out and stomped all of it more than once. Great review! :)

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    1. Yeah, my heart just broke on some scenes :( It was a horrible to see how unsympathetic everyone was

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  21. I've been wanting to read this one since it released. Usually cliche characters would turn me away, but I read someone's review that said it further delivered the point of the story and served a purpose in that sense? Something like that. Sorry you didn't love it, but great review.

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    1. I would say it's worth a read for subject matter if nothing else – it's always interesting (to me at least) to see how an author handles bullying and how the characters each react to it

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