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Twenty Questions: A Novel
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Twenty Questions: A Novel

3.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
It seemed to June that she had the perfect marriage until the day Ronald Pruett was arrested for the murder of Vernay Hanks. Through her job at an elementary school, June knew both the victim's child and Pruett. Moreover, on the day of the murder, she had almost taken a ride from Pruett herself. This connection with the murder becomes an obsession - leading June into a dec ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Washington Square Press (first published July 11th 2006)
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Aug 19, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing
When her car breaks down, June is offered a ride from the father of a grade school student at the school where she works. For some reason June turns him down. Later the same man is arrested for strangling another woman. June realizes that she narrowly escaped becoming a murder victim. The actual victim is the mother of a ten-year-old girl, also a student at June's school. For reasons June can't explain to herself--guilt? curiosity? the need to see that the little girl is safe?-- she goes to the ...more
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
June's close connection to a murder in her town becomes an obsession that leads her into an intimate and increasingly deceptive relationship with the dead woman's child and brother, forcing her to confront her own marriage and past. Nominated for the Oregon Book Award's Ken Kesey Award for the Novel, Alison Clement's Twenty Questions is a compelling story of violence, morality, and above all, the human being's unending desire for reinvention.
Recommended by Crystal,
Feb 07, 2012 Candice rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The biggest reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I do not like books that have an open ending. I would have liked it better had the author given something finite. I cannot imagine getting so tangled up in something like the situation in this story but this one had me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading.
Avielle Sales
Feb 18, 2016 Avielle Sales rated it really liked it
June had the perfect life and the perfect marriage to Ronald Pruett until the day he was arrested. June knew the victim, Vernay Hank's child and Pruett through her job at an elementary school. her having a connection with the people in the murder made her obsessed and lures her to a more complex involvement than she'd expect with the victim;s brother and child. June proceeded her investigation by pretending to be a friend of Vernay's and makes even more shocking revelations throughout the entire ...more
Sep 07, 2008 Dolcie added it
Reading this book was a very strange experience for me. I work at the same school as the author so reading this book was like having seen the film before reading the book. I recognized several places and people although they are supposedly fictional characters. I could also very much relate to the main character and her relationship with the children. I also understood where these children were coming from because these children truly exist at my school although by a different name and in many c ...more
Jun 15, 2009 April rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shonna Froebel
The main character, June, is married to Bill and works in the school cafeteria. When her car fails her one day, a man offers her a ride and she refuses. She hears later that a woman was killed after accepting a ride from the same man. Ronald Pruett is arrested for strangling Vernay Hanks. Vernay's daughter, Cindy, is a student who assists in the cafeteria. She finds herself drawn to Cindy and pretends a friendship with Cindy's mother. She gets drawn into Cindy's home life with her uncle, Harlen, ...more
Nov 17, 2015 SmarterLilac rated it really liked it
Simple, wholesome, but serious and totally free from pretention or doubt. Also, as a dweller of a city not far from Corvallis, Oregon, I was moved by how slyly the setting is referenced without detracting from either the Oregonian quality of the environment, or the story's universal appeal. The main characters, while flawed, are also believable and live through a serious crisis with dignity and integrity. Plus, I have to admire the fact that this book never turns graphic or gratuitous in its dep ...more
Diane Large
Jul 20, 2015 Diane Large rated it liked it
June has several major events happen in her life and she must fine out who she is. It took a while to get into the book, then there was an abrupt ending which I didn't like. It's not what I would call a typical murder mystery.
May 04, 2009 Sonja rated it really liked it
It took me a few pages to get into the groove, but in the end, I was totally caught up in Alison's story about the obsessive behavior of June, the elementary school lunch lady, who turns down a ride from a student's father one afternoon only to learn the next day that he's been arrested for murdering the woman he gave a ride to next. Particularly because they look similar and because the daughter of the dead woman is one of June's lunch line helpers at school. She gets all caught up in the dead ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Renie rated it liked it
This rather short book takes its about page 90-100 or so, it starts reining in the reader's interest with more assertiveness, but still it takes its time, reading more like a stream of consciousness than your typical novel. The protagonist also seems very real as the reader spends the majority of the book inside her mind, reading her thoughts, questions, concerns, etc. The main character, June nearly accepts a ride from an acquaintance who is charged with murdering another woman he doe ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Christa rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, class
"She didn't know how to measure her own distress within the context of the world" (p.168)

When I first started this book I was a bit put off and perplexed by the writing style. It took me a few chapters to get into it. The character speaks in an almost stream of consciousness style. I ended up liking it, once I got past my initial surprise. The author/main character talks about class in a way that I have rarely encountered in fiction books. A few aspects were predictable but I was still surprised
Sara Diane
Oct 30, 2008 Sara Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, reviewed
Interesting story. Clement's has a style that I couldn't quite place or name, and it was slightly annoying, but like a car accident, strangely alluring. This is a story about a woman who befriends the daughter of a murder victim and through this friendship, learns that her life is not what she thought it was. Due to some of the topics discussed, this is for more mature audiences (20+) and only those who can deal with cussing. I do have to say that the cussing wasn't there for effect but it came ...more
Feb 23, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
After declining a ride when her car breaks down, the main character is shocked to discover that a woman picked up by that man the same day is murdered. She becomes somewhat obsessed with the dead woman and insinuates her way into her family's life, and discovers some things about herself and her own life in the process. This book was not what I thought it was going to be from reading the description of it - it was more of a psychological drama than a mystery/suspense book. Interesting and differ ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
Sometimes, narrative simplicity makes for a relaxing, refreshing read, as in the Mma Ramotswe novels. Not so in this seemed like a children's book with a murder plot, for the most part. June was a reasonably well-written character, but it was like spending several hours inside her head with her thoughts...nothing really seemed to happen, nothing was resolved, and it certainly didn't deliver the "gripping story that speaks of violence and betrayal, feminism, and reinvention" that I was ...more
Jun 24, 2009 Carol rated it liked it
I have a family of readers who all buy books and circulate them among family members. I have no idea who brought this book to my house. The first few pages had me thinking I wasn't going to like this book, but I ended it thinking it was a story that was well told with twists that I didn't anticipate. Was it an education? Not the type I was looking for, but Clement did a good job of defining the heartbreaks of broken trust and relationships.
Oct 12, 2007 Linera rated it liked it
Shelves: pacific-nw-books
Nice clean prose, but predictable story. Strong opening line makes me wish it had just been a short story. The book is a finalist for the 2007 Oregon Book Awards:

Ken Kesey Award for the Novel
Judge: Antonya Nelson

Alison Clement Twenty Questions (Atria Books)
Monica Drake Clown Girl (Hawthorne Books)
Robert Hill When All Is Said and Done (Graywolf Press)
May 29, 2009 Jan rated it liked it
I was interested in reading this book because it won the Oregon Book Award for Oregon authors. It is set in Corvallis and the main character works as a cook in a grade school. It is also a murder mystery and an interesting discourse on marriage and about whether or not you can really know anyone. There were a few choppy spots but overall it was pretty good.
Jul 21, 2008 Lori rated it liked it
This author came to speak at my local library. Wonderful listening to an author read and gave me a tone for the voice as I read it. This was a really good book with a stupid ending. It twisted to make it so unprobable that it ruined it. Like the author said "Oh, 365 pages gotta end it..." Oh well. Maybe Alison will keep writing and improve her craft.
The story was interesting and deep, but you don't know it at first. At first, it's just a story about a strange woman who has a hard time processing a peripheral tragedy. But then, I realized it's a story about a woman figuring out who she is...and who she isn't.
Feb 24, 2013 Lidiab rated it liked it
At first the book was hard to get into,but if you can make it to chapter 4 things pick up and start making sense. We can all relate to June on some level. And all of our lives;actions and consequences are interrelated. This book was simple and a bit sad.
Oct 14, 2008 Tammie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in a murder mystery-type book.
Once I started reading it, it was really hard to put down. It has a lot of twists in it that no one really would least I didn't at first. The ending confused me a little bit, though. Other than that, I loved the book.
Feb 02, 2011 Marcee rated it liked it
I'd give this a 3.5. I like the writing style and the story was good. I didn't like the ending-it just left too much open. It would have been nice to know what happened to the main characters, even it was very general.
Jun 27, 2012 Christine rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book until the end. I am not sure why it was classified as a Mystery, as it was more of a drama with a rather unsatisfactory ending. Quick read, I read it all in one afternoon/evening.
Sep 07, 2008 Morgan rated it it was ok
Not a bad book; in fact, it's won awards. But the writing style wasn't my taste. It just didn't capture my interest; I didn't finish it. However, I'm sure some people would find it a worthwhile read.
Jun 20, 2012 Sara rated it it was ok
Mediocre at best. June's narrative voice is histrionic and a little annoying. The plot was predictable and not particularly original. Mildly entertaining and a super quick read, but nothing special.
Mar 14, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
Kind of a weird book but I liked it a lot. The ending surprised me a little I have to say. Overall I'd recommend, not like every book out there plot wise.
May 09, 2010 Lindsey rated it did not like it
It is coming close to being the end of this book and it is frustrating. It seems almost too cliche and unrealistic.
Krystle Garrison
Sep 24, 2010 Krystle Garrison rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
i really liked this story. i liked how all the characters came together. and the ending left a lot of mystery.
Melissa Peterson
Jan 25, 2013 Melissa Peterson rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Alison Clement is the author of Pretty Is As Pretty Does (MacAdam Cage, 2001), which was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers choice and a BookSense selection. Her second book, Twenty Questions (Washington Square Press, 2006), won the Oregon Book Award for Best Novel. Her work has appeared in The Sun, High Country New and The Alaska Quarterly Review. Alison grew up in South Carolina and G ...more
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