The Truth About Alice

The Truth About Alice - Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone in school knows about Alice. She slept with two guys at the same party. The reason Brandon, quarterback of the football team, died in a car crash was because Alice was sexting him. There have always been rumors about Alice, but things get really crazy after Brandon's death. Four students—the girl who hosted that party, Alice's former best friend, the best friend of Brandon who was in the car too, and the boy who lives next door to Brandon's family—tell everything they know about Alice. And then the final chapter is told from Alice's perspective.


The Truth About Alice takes on a lot of the concepts that I often see in YA books set in high school—rumors, stereotypes like the popular mean girl, popular jock, slut, etc.—and examines and humanizes them. By seeing the story from four of the students who take part in the ostracizing of Alice in various ways, we get a chance to see the why behind the choices they make. And while the characters seemingly fit into neat little stereotypes when the story begins, all of them are fleshed out into real people that don't fit neatly into the molds those stereotypes have made. While I may not have liked the actions of each character, I was able to see and understand where they were coming from.


One of the parts that really stood out for me was a little monologue Kelsey, Alice's former best friend, had. She talks about how, if she were living in Nazi Germany, she would have been a Nazi. Not because she would have believed what they were doing was right, but because she would have wanted to fit in. She says that she knows that's horrible, but that's just how it probably would be. It was that kind of harsh self-awareness that made her an interesting character to follow. Kelsey may not have been likable, and she knew that, but it didn't stop her.


I did wish that there had been more from Josh, Brandon's best friend. I wanted to see more of his story. Part of his inner conflict was kept vague, but heavily implied that

he had been in love with Brandon. I would have liked that to be more explicit, simply because, when plots like that are kept vague, they can very easily be missed, which I see happen a lot. While I like subtlety, sometimes things can stand to be a bit less subtle.

(show spoiler)


While I love books from multiple perspectives, it's also difficult to find books that can pull it off well. Luckily, this is one that succeeds at making distinctive voices for each character. Despite being short, The Truth About Alice manages to make all of its characters feel real. This book ended up being so much better than I expected.