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.
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In THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE we see Alice Franklin, who most girls envy for her so-called perfect body and ability around guys, the guys who want her, and the friend who resents not being like her. Then one tragic event sets off one rumor that she slept with not one guy but two until it snowballs into she was the reason why the popular jock dies in a car accident. Rumors continue to fly until one starts the 'slut stall' which escalates the viciousness.
What worked: The viciousness of how a text message can spread rumors and gossip to the point of destroying the reputation of a girl. This is shown in a brutally raw way that is very painful. The 'truth' is slowly unraveled after we hear from different people who knew Alice.
There are some very strong images woven throughout this story. It could have been so easy for this to be just 'Alice's' story but no, we see her through a number of others in her high school. I think this works as we can observe Alice and see the reasoning behind the slander. Each of the point of views has his/her own motivations behind doing their part in either spreading the rumors or being silent.
My favorite character had to be the smart nerdy Kurt who everyone else avoids but has a secret crush on Alice. He's the one who reaches out to her while others are so quick to believe the rumors. He's not entirely selfless when he reaches out to Alice when he finds she needs help in math but he also doesn't ignore her either. To me that took courage that others, including her former BFF, lacked.
What I had trouble with though had to be how some of the characters sounded too much alike to the point of being the stereotypical 'mean' girl and the oversexed jock. It wasn't until halfway through this book, I put those concerns aside. The reveals are shocking at times and tragic.
The whole slut-shaming(I hate this term) is shown in horrific detail with how quick a so-called best friend can turn on a friend in order not to be associated with the rumor. Kelsie, the former best friend, reasoning on why she started the slut hall in the bathroom, is something I've heard too often. "Well, if she didn't do this or if she didn't date the guy I wanted? I'd never would have done that to her." Placing the blame on something else is all too often used. Kelsie and her Christian mother's hypocrisy, on one of the accusations against Alice, is something that makes this story even more tragic.
I feel this would be the perfect book club selection on how a malicious action can snowball into destroying a person's image and worse. Showing those involved in the rumors helps us see the motivations that might be behind such an act. Horrific and raw with painful insights into something that unfortunately continues to this day.
We have four different POVs throughout the story. Each one close to, or in direct contact with Alice and play a huge part in the lies, betrayal and damaging things done to her over the course of the year. There was Elaine, the popular, girl in school. Josh, the best friend of Brandon. Kurt, the outcast (I know the blurb says Kelsie but technically, it’s Kurt), who had adored Alice from afar for years. And finally, Kelsie, Alice’s “best friend.”
Of all the different characters, Kelsie is the one that brought out the most emotion out of me. Granted, everything that happened and was done to Alice was horrible. But Kelsie? Ugh. She has her own justifications for why she did what she did – hell they all did – but I just couldn’t fathom how someone could go to such lows. You have to respect their honest too.
One thing I found very interesting was the lack of POV from Alice. There wasn’t any time where Alice is defending herself, or what had exactly went on, from her perspective. Which worked. We learn about what REALLY happened through the other’s views anyway. And trust me, it is NOT pretty. Yet, it’s so brutally honest and real I couldn’t STOP reading. No matter how hard it was, how uncomfortable it made me. Let’s face it, it’s reality.
Let’s set aside that aspect of the book and talk about the other issues brought up and mentioned. Each and every single character had some other underlining issue to deal with. These aren’t small, insignificant issues either. You would think with everything going on, with the four POVs, things would be too much, but it’s handled so well that it isn’t overwhelming at all. All these things are talked about and handled in such a way that me in awe of her writing. Not to mention, gutted.
I absolutely loved! The Truth About Alice is a heavy, emotional and compelling read. It touches on hard to read subjects, but it’s handled so well. Highly recommend this!