Title: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Genre: Contemporary, Drama
Rating: 5 Stars
I picked up The Truth About Alice because it seemed like a quick and easy read and while it was quick I read it in a couple of hours, the subject matter at times wasn’t easy. We are follow four students from Healy High discussing the scandal surrounding another student, Alice Franklin. The other perspectives are that of Elaine, Kelsie, Kurt and Josh, at one of Elaine’s parties Alice allegedly slept with two boys, Brandon Fitzsimmons, the high school quarterback and Tommy, a local whose leaving for college soon. Just a few weeks later Brandon dies in a car accident and the reason for the crash as Josh mentions to the police is Alice sending him suggestive text messages. So, Alice becomes not only the school slut but a killer as well in the eyes of her fellow students. When the rumour emerges because of Elaine, Alice goes to her best friend, Kelsie and denies them but Kelsie isn’t sure if Alice is telling the truth or not. Kelsie stops being friends with Alice to protect her own reputation which she has worked hard for but it means Alice has no one to support her now. Josh, Brandon’s best friend, was in the car when he died but survived and it is Josh who starts the text messaging rumour by accident to protect himself even though both boys were drunk at the time of the crash.
To get some background on the characters, we learn that Elaine and Brandon being the most popular kids at school had an on again, off again relationship and often fooled around together. Alice has also kissed Brandon before at a school dance which is why Elaine doesn’t really like Alice and jumps at the chance to spread a rumour about her. Josh comes off as a nice guy so I don’t think he is the type to lie but we don’t get much from his perspective right now. The night of the party in question Josh is the one who puts the idea of bedding Alice into Josh’s head which led to the rumour in the first place. We are then introduced to Kurt, who is a genius and the outsider of the school since no one really bothers with him. Kurt has a crush on Alice and has for a long time but he is socially awkward so he has never confronted these feelings or told Alice about them. When he catches Alice crying her tries to approach her only to be snapped at because she thinks he has come to stare at her like other people have been doing but Kurt genuinely has a kind heart. People are beginning to notice a decline in Alice’s behaviour and Kelsie also hints at something happening with Tommy but doesn’t go into it yet. When Alice worked at the local pool with Tommy and Mark, she invites Kelsie to a party after closing. At this little gathering Alice ends up giving Mark a blow job and lies to Kelsie about it because she is ashamed of doing it. However, when Kelsie finds out she doesn’t really trust Alice anymore and doesn’t tell her about the things she went through because of it.
Kurt notices a furthering decline in Alice’s behaviour and attitude since he is the only person watching out for her right now and decides to offer her help in math but tutoring her. Kurt has never been able to put his feelings into words well but when Alice thinks he is teasing her, he is quick to correct her and she is beginning to see that he likes her and wants to help despite her being an outcast. We get some insight to the night of the party from Elaine as she explains seeing Brandon and Alice together several times throughout the night which is why it was easy for people to believe the rumour about them sleeping together and Brandon even makes this claim himself. Kelsie later adds to this by claiming she saw Alice and her mother going into an abortion clinic which means Alice must have gotten pregnant the night of the party by either Brandon or Tommy, which would explain why Alice was texting Brandon when he died.
From Josh we see that he has an attraction to Brandon which he has kept hidden as he isn’t fully sure of his sexuality yet and doesn’t feel he will be accepted anymore. He also may have lied about Alice to cover something else up but we don’t know the facts yet as all of this is second hand information. Kelsie around this time is struggling with her decision to dump Alice as a friend and she is coming to miss the easy conversation that she had with her friend. Over their tutoring sessions, Alice ends up becoming friends with Kurt and they meet up once a week. He is tutoring her because math comes easily to Kurt and after a few months he decides he is going to tell Alice how he feels since he has earned her trust now. Kurt knows that Alice didn’t sleep with Brandon or Tommy since Brandon told him that when he was drunk. Brandon started the rumour because Alice wouldn’t sleep with him and he was angry about it and because Tommy wouldn’t be around to deny the claim. The question now is if Alice really did go for an abortion whose baby was it. I really like Kurt at this point and I hope there can be some kind of happy ending for him and Alice.
Kurt and Alice’s friendship is going great but as Brandon’s birthday arrives he heads over to Alice’s. There he finds her drinking which isn’t something he does often but joins her and gives her a Christmas present. This is Alice’s favourite book but a first edition which she is extremely grateful for and they end up getting pizza and chatting like regular teens which is something neither of them have experienced for a while. W e learn that Kelsie willingly slept with Tommy due to the peer pressure she felt about losing her virginity but she ends up getting pregnant. Since Tommy has already left for college she has no way of getting hold of him so she tells her religious mother expecting to keep and raise the baby but her mother takes her for an abortion. Kelsie isn’t sure she wants the abortion but does it anyway because it is expected of her and when she sees Tommy again she tells him about it but he doesn’t really care since there is no expectation on him. Kelsie is weighed down by thoughts about the baby she could have had and ends up telling her friends but she changes her name to Alice’s starting the abortion rumour and while she does seem to regret these decisions it doesn’t change the fact she made them.
As we get close to the end of the novel we can see Alice starting to come to terms with the reality she is living in now. Kurt plays a big part in this because he knows the truth despite not telling Alice and he supports her when she needs it and is just a good friend to her which is what she needs right now. When Josh sees Alice in the library, we know he lied about the texts which Alice supposedly sent but he doesn’t say anything to her through and he feels bad because Alice was always nice to him when they were younger. Alice ends up having a confrontation with Kelsie about the abortion rumour and while Kelsie wants to tell Alice everything she doesn’t and comes up with a crappy excuse. Alice is well within her rights to be angry about the situation and storms out leaving Kelsie feeling lost and alone and still grieving for the child she might have had. Honestly apart from the abortion everything Kelsie is going through she has brought on herself so I couldn’t bring myself to feel sorry for her for the most part. This novel is really highlights the perils of peer pressures and what it can do to young boys and girls.
In the final section of the novel we focus more on Alice and Kurt, while there is a scene between Alice and Elaine where they talk for the first time since the party but they don’t make up. Elaine invites Alice to sit with them again at lunch but she knows Alice isn’t going to take the offer and doesn’t blame her at all because of the way they have treated her during this. Kurt ends up telling Alice what he knows and she gets angry with him but soon realises that she shouldn’t be mad at him and apologises. She and Kurt are beginning to take baby steps towards a relationship and it was honestly so cute that it made me squeal at times. I appreciated the look into slut shaming, teenage sexuality and teenage pregnancy in this book and I came away feeling that no matter how much the world beats you down you learn pretty soon who your true friends are and they will support you. I wish we could have seen more of Alice and Kurt but the book was overall very interesting and tackled difficult topics but still managed to end up being a cute and quick read.
Buy it here: