Tag Archives: Bullying

The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice – Jennifer MathieuTitle: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Publishing Info: June 3, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 21, 2014
Related Posts: Devoted

    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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THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE was a really interesting story. Instead of being told from the title character’s POV, the book is told by four different characters, each with a unique point of view regarding Alice’s personal character and the events that occurred the night of the big party — or basically, the beginning of the end of Alice’s reputation.

Immediately when I started reading, I knew there was more to the story. Wild rumors were flying all around school (and even the community) about Alice Franklin and immediately I felt sorry for the girl. I wasn’t exactly sure yet what had happened myself but it was clear that the rumors had escalated to a horrific level and poor Alice was somehow not only responsible for sleeping with two guys in one night, but also for the death of popular football player Brandon after he died in a car accident, supposedly because Alice was texting him something inappropriate.

Books like these just make me sad because I think of all of the people whose reputations have been destroyed by rumors either spreading with no credibility whatsoever or because of partial truths that somehow escalate out of control. Although it’s left to the reader to figure out exactly what happened between her and Brandon and what went down at the party, the characters also reveal that Alice didn’t have the most innocent reputation (though not terrible) which led to the mild credibility of those rumors once they got going… and I think that’s what upset me the most. Yes, it’s awful no matter who it happens to but it’s also so sad that people will readily assume worse things about someone if they already know some less than favorite facts beforehand. It’s almost a sort of prejudice or stereotype and people get one idea stuck in their head and allow new ideas along the same path of what they already know — whether true or not — to blend into on giant assumption. Unfortunately I think this is something that happens to almost all of us. It’s so hard not to operate on what we already know and allow our brains to fill in the gaps to “logical” explanations once a situation is presented.

I think it was a fantastic idea for Jennifer Mathieu to write this book from every perspective except for Alice’s (which actually does appear at the very end). I feel like the norm is to see books like this from the rumor victim’s point of view and I think for me, that tugged at the heartstrings even more. Each person essentially knew the rumors weren’t true — at least, if they assumed part of the rumors were true, they knew that the truth wasn’t as exaggerated as what had been flying around the school and neighborhood and THAT was the worst thing to witness. No one wanted to stand up for Alice and the “oh well, she probably deserves it anyway” attitude from some absolutely killed me.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE was a really good read. I think it really opened my eyes to situations like these — not necessarily specifically involving rumors but just standing up for someone or speaking up in situations that you know are wrong. It’s hard to take the risk and possible put yourself in the line of fire as well, but hopefully books like these will continue to keep that reminder in the back of people’s minds and may end up influencing someone to speak up the next time they’re in a situation like this.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kurt // Character Obsessions: School, facts, keeping to himself, Alice. 
I really liked Kurt a lot. He was the character that felt the most real to me where all of the other kids felt entirely too shallow. Kurt showed real depth, real feelings, range of emotion. His was definitely the POV I enjoyed the most and I also think he offered one of the most unique POVs. I just really enjoyed everything his character offered for the book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books about bullying. I’ve read a few of these recently! They’re not usually something I pick up, I think in part because I didn’t witness a lot of bullying in my high school so it wasn’t something that was in the forefront of my mind… But hearing about everything that actually DOES go on outside of my little bubble? It’s a terrible thing and it’s a good thing to read about situations like this to make myself more aware of what actually goes on and influence me to speak up if I do come across it.
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I actually DID feel like the characters were fairly well-rounded. As I read, I found out all of the little secrets that most of this kids kept from their classmates and even sometimes from their best friends! But at the same time, I still wanted a bit more from a few more of them and I just really wanted to dig into their stories.

Addiction Rating
Read it

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE was a really good read for me. It was quick, it was interesting, and it was something that opened my eyes to things that may be going on around me that I’m just not even noticing. I’m not usually one to speak up in uncomfortable situations but it really has me re-evaluating potential scenarios and what I would do in these types of situations.

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BOOKS LIKE THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Confessions of an Angry Girl   #scandal Sarah Ockler

#scandal – Sarah Ockler

#scandal – Sarah OcklerTitle: #scandal by Sarah Ockler
Publishing Info: June 17, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 11, 2014
Related Posts: The Selective Collective features The Book of Broken Hearts, The Book of Broken Hearts, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

    A private, high school senior gets an unwanted turn in the spotlight when a Facebook scandal goes viral after prom in this comedic, edgy novel from the author of The Book of Broken Hearts and Bittersweet.Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time. When Cole surprises her at the after-party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of…and the biggest BFF dealbreaker ever. But before they get the chance to ’fess up to Ellie, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising photos of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral. By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal, just weeks before graduation. Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know that there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…

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As I’m sure many of you know, I was a HUGE fan of the first Sarah Ockler book I read, THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS. I have to read any other ones besides that and #SCANDAL but I’ve heard good things about the rest! Obviously, when I went to start #SCANDAL, I had some pretty high expectations. I had heard from others who had already read it that it definitely was a different style than Sarah’s previous books and I tried to put myself in that mindset but… well… I failed.

#SCANDAL was VERY different for me as a reader. Not just in style but it didn’t even feel like I was reading the same author. All of the bare bones were there of the things that I loved in THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS – a strong female character, a rocky but great family relationship to explore, a super swoony boy, and friendship trials/tribulations – but none of those elements really seemed to work or pan out for me in #SCANDAL. Almost all of them felt completely undeveloped and overshadowed by the plot and without that feeling of reality from the characters and their relationship, I was just lost in the drama of the book.

#SCANDAL had some, well, scandalous topics. Lucy finds herself the victim of a social media explosion after being photographed kissing her best friend’s boyfriend (now ex, although that wasn’t news to the school yet) and an innocent situation turned completely and untruthfully raunchy. I really appreciated a lot of the situations that Lucy had to deal with and I thought Sarah Ockler did a great job of showing how social media really does affect our daily lives, especially when it comes to the relationships we have with our peers. Things can easily be taken out of context or thrown out of proportion because of the passive-aggressiveness of social media and many people end up not confronting issues head on. I think Sarah Ockler did a really great job of exploring those angles and I loved all of the questions both characters and reader came up with throughout the course of the book.
What I didn’t enjoy was how most of the characters handled these situations. If Lucy is innocent (we know she is), why didn’t she stand up for herself more? I’m not a vocal person by any means and I don’t really push myself into situations or even speak up for myself at times, but if I was involved in a scandal that was entirely untrue, you BET I would be all over the place defending myself, tracking down the culprit who was spreading rumors about me, and trying to make things right. Lucy was portrayed to be this kickass, zombie and guts-loving, nose ring-wearing girl and I felt like she didn’t once have that sort of personality outside of her videogames. I’m not saying that stereotypical look + attitude combination exists all the time, but it was surprising to me that she would be bold with her looks and actions everywhere EXCEPT for handling this scandal and her friendships. I was just really disappointed with her character.

I really wasn’t sold on many of the relationships, sadly. We find out many different things about Lucy’s relationship with her sister, but they’re only briefly touched upon and then quickly resolved. The swoony aspect between Lucy and Cole are totally glossed over because of the situation surrounding them. They had some REALLY cute moments but there were just so few and far between. I was really disappointed with the friendships too. Everything just seemed so catty and superficial. I just felt like every relationship in the book really could have benefitted from a bit more development.
I really just wasn’t a fan of the overall feel of the book, to be perfect frank. I can appreciate keeping a lighter tone with such a heavy topic, but I would have liked to see it addressed a bit more seriously. Again, all the messages were there but I didn’t quite like their delivery. The whole vibe was just a bit TOO Gossip Girl meets Mean Girls and I think it got a little too silly for my tastes. I would have liked this to feel a lot more realistic instead of getting carried away with being fun.

I’m just so sad that this one didn’t really seem to work out at all for me. I was really hoping for another knockout after THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS and I think that was really just a tough book to follow. The overall feel left me wanting so much more of the reality of each situation and everything just felt a little underwhelming.

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Lucy // Character Obsessions: Zombies, video games, Cole. 
Lucy, Lucy, Lucy. Why didn’t you stand up for yourself?!? That’s one thing I can’t understand. Why did no one encourage her to come forward and say or try to prove that all of these scandalous accusations were false? Why didn’t she WANT to? Who wants to be tortured and ridiculed like that? I mean, obviously she didn’t but that was just something that bothered me throughout the whole book. I also felt like she was so passive with her friendships as well. I really had just hoped for so much more from her.
Principal Zeff // Character Obsessions: Advice, cookies, Facebook.
WOW, this principal should be fired. Instead of solving problems and really taking matters into her own hands… She encourages Lucy to take the blame for her “actions”? Even though she knows she’s innocent of the accusations? And then comes up with BS activities to “help the students”. No. Just no. So unprofessional and just a terrible principal.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Issues. It was so interesting to really sit back and think about your social media presence as well as consequences for whatever you do, especially in a public setting. It’s terrible that people are actually treated that way, but unfortunately it’s something children and adults alike need to be aware of nowadays, especially with how easily things go viral on social media and the internet.
Left Me Wanting More: Gravity. I wanted things to be a bit more serious. Yes, the whole scandal did have its very serious consequences but I felt like the lighter tone of the book really just set a glaze over everything. Sugary, sweet fun. I think it should have been less cute, more serious. .

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I know others enjoyed it but I was just so disappointed in this one. I can’t really recommend it. If you want to try a Sarah Ockler book, I will forever recommend THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS. I personally plan on reading others to try to cleanse my palate.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Blaze   The Break-Up Artist