Confession: mostly, I bought this book because it was written by a local author, whom I see at events regularly and wanted to support. (A quick glance...moreConfession: mostly, I bought this book because it was written by a local author, whom I see at events regularly and wanted to support. (A quick glance through my reviews page or shelves on Goodreads will indicate that I’m not a big reader of contemporary fiction.)
Surprise: As soon as I started reading the book, I could see why so many people were excited about it. This book hooked me from page one.
The narrative style chosen by Mathieu, I think, was a wonderful choice. As a teenager, it can often feel like so much of life is affected by rumor, gossip, and hearsay information. What more authentic way to learn the truth about Alice than through the eyes and voices of her peers? This effect is amplified because of the small town setting, which means everyone knows everything about everyone else (so they think).
Each character’s voice was distinct and realistic. I really enjoyed how they spoke casually and candidly, and the language felt very true to teenager-speak without turning into stereotype or caricature. Similar to Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, the reader has to piece the whole picture together based on the testimony from various people. All the while, you get to watch Alice turn into a pariah and forge a special friendship with another local “outsider.”
The exploration of social issues, like slut shaming, was welcome and well done. It always comes as a nice surprise to me when a YA book deals with issues like this — especially when it is thoughtfully and carefully done. Perhaps the most important thing about this book is that it opens readers’ eyes to just how damaging something like slut shaming can be. The story makes it clear how pervasive and insidious rumors can be, and how quickly lies can spread throughout a community. This hits hard, because it is authentic and familiar.
The Truth About Alice has so much of what makes me love a contemporary novel: very minor (if any) inclusion of romance, and a focus on mental and emotional issues (generally in regards to social issues, in some way). It’s part mystery, part social commentary, and a great helping of exploring relationships. And probably the thing that sold me hardest on this book? The writing was high quality; it does not read like a debut!