Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice - Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice
Jennifer Mathieu 
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: An important story
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I received an eARC of The Truth About Alice on Netgalley a few months ago when I went on a really crazy read-now and requesting binge (which was a big mistake since I didn’t have time to read and of the books). I found the cover very intriguing and beautiful, and it definitely does a good job reflecting the story.

Right after I finished The Truth About Alice I didn’t fully appreciate the story that it told, because it is an important story being told. At the start of the story, it’s clear that there are a lot of rumors circulating about Alice Franklin, and they are less than complimentary. The big ones: Alice Franklin slept with two different guys at one party and she caused the death of beloved quarterback, Brandon. Throughout the book, the reader learns exactly what the title suggests – the truth about Alice.

The story is told through shifting points of view of characters that know Alice: a jock, an ex-best friend, a popular girl, and a nerd who has a crush on Alice. It’s cool how the story unfolds and the reader starts to understand what the truth about Alice actually is. The writing style – the sort of stream of consciousness from the narrators – makes the story read very quickly.

I wasn’t especially enthralled by any of the characters but I thought Jennifer Mathieu did a good job getting into the heads of the people who bullied Alice. It’s very clear throughout the story that these characters don’t necessarily want to bully Alice but rather that they are guilty or bad or self conscious about something and they project their problems onto Alice – they use Alice as a scapegoat from their troubles to make them feel better. These characters, particularly Kelsie and Josh, know that what they’re doing is wrong but they care more about what’s easy. It was easy to blame Alice for bad things that happened to Kelsie that summer. It was easy for Josh to let Alice take the blame for his best friend’s death. These characters could not deal with their problems and they made Alice deal instead – and the worst part about it is that a large part of each of them still feels bad because they know it’s wrong.

While the ex-best friend and the jock are the most to blame for Alice’s misfortune, the popular girl, Elaine, and the nerd, Kurt, still hold some responsibility. Elaine is more of a bystander – she doesn’t necessarily start any of the rumors about Alice but she adds fuel to the fire, helping the rumors spread. Kurt is a bit of a different case. He’s always been an outsider, so he can’t really step in and stop the rumors. However, he does attempt to befriend Alice and helps her to feel better about the past.

My biggest complaint about the story is that it just wasn’t as emotional as I wanted it to be for the subject matter. Sure, they all had their dramatic stories, but I just didn’t feel very emotionally attached to any of the characters.

Overall, I think The Truth About Alice is an important story, one that peaks into the minds of bullies and bystanders. The story does a great job of showing how petty and dramatic people can be and how they don’t see the full consequence of their actions. The characters didn’t necessarily want to hurt Alice, but they didn’t think through all the things they said about her – they just wanted to feel better. It’s a good read but it would definitely have been more enjoyable for me had I felt more emotionally attached to the characters.

- Kiersten

What do you think of books about bullying?
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