Book Review: The Truth About Alice
E Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.
ashley | Why I continue to relive high school by reading books like Jennifer Mathieu’s The Truth About Alice is beyond me. Maybe I’m masochistic, maybe it’s so I can remember how far I have come and how I was able to escape such terrible years unscathed. Whatever the reason, The Truth About Alice violently threw me right back into those awkward, confusing teenage years with an accuracy that was chilling.
I have to admit, I was no Alice Franklin. I was the shy wallflower who worked too many after school jobs and didn’t have time for boys. But the fact that I feel a need to define myself like that, to disassociate myself from “who Alice Franklin is” is exactly the point of this entire book.
Each chapter is from the point of view of a different high school student. It’s chalked full of rumours and gossip about Alice, about what really happened at the party. It’s like the scene from Mean Girls when you’re first being introduced to Regina George and the camera compiles a running montage of different students repeating facts about her that might or might not be true. Through this structure, we flip back and forth learning about what happened on that fateful night to what happened afterwards.
You have your breakfast club of characters… the popular girl, the insecure wannabe popular girl, the jock, the outcast freak, the slut. It’s a basket full of insecurities and cruelty and all the drama mixed in between, dissecting the stereotypes of each character and analyzing how they each played a very specific role in what eventually becomes Alice’s fate.
I love how self aware these characters are in their individual chapters, how brutally honest they are about why they reacted certain ways, why they did certain things. It gives a strong insight into the actions of people and why they can sometimes be so cruel to each other. I also love how Mathieu challenges the “slut” stereotype, focusing on how “harmless” gossip can snowball into a much bigger monster and add fuel to an already rapidly burning rumour.
I’m referring to Mean Girls again, but I think Mean Girls is such a perfect, important movie for teenage girls, bringing the cattiness and pressures of being a teenage girl into the spotlight. Like Easy A and the book Reconstructing Amelia, The Truth About Alice has such a clear and strong anti-bullying message and a spotlight on how much a little gossip can impact someone’s life and that is so so so important for young people to be aware of.
If I ever have children, I’m tucking these away to read when they are that critical age. Who knows, maybe it will help them get through things just a little bit easier, knowing that these stereotypes can be broken and high school is, like Kurt says, simply an extremely small place in the middle of a very large place… and that is itself just a small place in the middle of an even larger place called the world, making much of what is discussed inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.