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.Hardcover, 208 pages
Four Stars: A stunning and thought provoking book that will show you the horrific effects of bullying and slut shaming.
Alice used to be pretty and popular. She had plenty of friends and her share of boyfriends. That all changes at the beginning of junior year when Alice attends a party. By the end of the night, vicious rumors are being texted throughout the student body. At this party, Alice supposedly slept with two boys. She is immediately branded a slut. Then when Brandon dies a few days later in a drunk car crash, more rumors emerge and Alice is supposedly responsible since she was texting Brandon while he was driving. As the year progresses, the rumors grow more vicious. Alice is a slut, she sleeps with everyone, she got pregnant and had an abortion...... Alice goes from pretty and popular to social outcast. She wears hooded sweatshirts to school and tries to hide. Even the adults believe the rumors. The worst thing is that no one ever asked Alice her side of the story. Will Alice survive?
What I Liked:
- Wow! It isn't often that I pick up YA contemporary novels, but I am certainly glad that I read this book. It was a shocking story that shows the horrible consequences of spreading rumors and bullying. It is so simple for high school students to turn their jealousy on another student, and it isn't long before everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Better to go with the crowd than side with the outcast, right? The story explores how dangerous rumors can be. This is a book that should be read and discussed as it has some important messages. A must read for teens.
- I liked that this book is told with four different view points. You have Elaine, the pretty, popular girl who doesn't lead the charge against Alice, but she goes along with it. Josh, Brandon's best friend, who plays a strong role in the downfall of Alice. Kelsie, Alice's former best friend, who because of her jealousy, helps ruin Alice's reputation. And finally, Kurt, the boy genius who knows all to well what it feels like to be invisible. Kurt is the only one who reaches out his hand to Alice. It was interesting and disturbing to see how each small action played a major role in the disgrace of Alice. I liked getting inside of each of the different characters' heads and learning why they were motivated to behave the way the did. Did they do it because of their own insecurities and jealousy? Were they trying to hide their own mistakes or was it easy just to go along with crowd? Was it because of their insecurity over their sexual identity? The author does a terrific job of exposing some of the different motives for this type of behavior, and I liked learning each character's big secret.
- This is a book that would be great for discussion. It has many mature themes and there are instances of teen drinking, sex and an abortion. If you have a younger reader, this is one that would be best suited to read and discuss together. Even though these topics may be upsetting to some people, I like that the author included them to keep the story realistic because bottom line, this is what teenagers are facing. This story is a perfect example of how dangerous a text or rumor can be. I thought this was a powerful and eye opening book. I applaud the author for addressing this topic. It could happen to anyone, just one text that spreads through the school whether it is true or not could forever harm someone. Think before you speak, text or participate in spreading rumors. You never know when the tables could be turned.
- Even though most of the story is dark and disturbing, I loved the blossoming friendship between Alice and Kurt. It is the light in the darkness, and the relationship is beautiful. I loved how Kurt helped Alice.
And The Not So Much:
- I was disappointed that I didn't get to hear from Alice until the very end of the book, and even then her chapter was brief. I was itching to get inside her head and see how she dealt with it all. We only get to see her through the other kids' eyes. It is a horrible road for Alice. I honestly think that it would be ideal of the author considered writing another book from Alice's point of view.
- After all the turmoil, the book reaches the end, and it isn't clear what happens to Alice. It seems that perhaps she has reached the turning point, and that things will finally get better, but the reader is left with an open ending. I would have loved an Epilogue, or again, another book from her view point, but then again, you don't always get a happy ending in real life.
- I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't any inclusion of social media. I am sure in this situation that there would have been plenty of posting on Facebook and Twitter and all that, but it isn't included. I think that this day in age, social media can be so detrimental and it is a huge issue facing teens today.
- I wished that it had been more clear when it came to Josh's storyline. It is completely inferred that Josh was struggling with his own sexual identity. A younger reader might miss the relevance of his actions and why he was acting the way he did.
- As I discussed earlier, this book delves into some mature topics: abortion, teen drinking, drunk driving, sexuality, slut shaming and so forth. This is a book for mature teens, I would say sixteen and up, but if you have a younger teen, I think it would be appropriate to read this with them and discuss.
The Truth About Alice is a tough read. It shows the terrible consequences of starting rumors, slut shaming and how damaging they can be to a young teen. At no other time in life is there such a caustic and damning environment as high school. This is a book that calls attention to the dangers of bullying and how one small untruth can ruin someone's life. This is a book that all teens should read and take notice of. Bullying is a horrible act, and no one should ever have to endure what Alice does.
"You don't beat around the bush. You see I'm drunk and you tell me I'm drunk. You see the lights of the moon shining down upon you, and you say hi to the moon."
"I really can't handle talking about this for too long because it just hurts too much, but I do want to say that there is one thing I've learned about people: they don't get that mean and nasty overnight. It's not human nature. If you give people enough time, eventually they'll do the most heartbreaking stuff in the world."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.