[Book Review] The Truth About Alice

The Truth About Alice / Jennifer Mathieu (Powell's Books)
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.  Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.
The Truth About Alice tells a story about adolescences and rumors.  We learn Alice's story through the experiences of her classmates as stories and events are shared and snowball out of control.  The narrators show flaws and the myopia of youth, each with a distinctly different voice and experience.  Piece by piece we learn the truth about the rumors, but never from Alice herself.  I found the story uncomfortable to read but not due to flaws in the writing style.  Rather the treatment of Alice herself and the propagation of misinformation gives the story its dissonance.

The Truth About Alice will resonate with those familiar with The Scarlett Letter or with the movie Easy A.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

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