“Truth” and Consequences

Cover of The Truth About Alice by Jennifer MathieuThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu. Roaring Book Press, 2014.

Everybody knows the truth about Alice.
Everyone knows she slept with two guys in one night at Elaine’s party.Everyone knows she’s responsible for the star quarterback’s death.
Everybody knows she’s a slut.
Yes, everybody is sure they know the truth about Alice. But those who have told the “Truth” have their own secrets.

This is a book about Alice. But we don’t hear from Alice until the very end. Actually, this is a book about Alice’s reputation and about how truth is constructed. It is a story of how people manipulate the truth for their own purposes, to protect their own secrets. The voices that we do hear are from teens who are open and honest about their faults. Their words and actions are horrible, and they admit it. But they are honest about why they behave the way they do. Their reasons are all too understandable. But rumor takes on a life of its own. And people are only too happy to have someone to blame, whether it’s the truth or not.

I was very moved by this story. The slut shaming and rumor mill are awful. But you understand why the other students act in the way they do. It would be all too easy to dismiss this as a powerful, but fictional account of a worst case scenario. Sadly, that’s not the case. Shortly after I finished this book I came across a news story about a study that found that slut shaming, similar to that depicted in this book, causes adolescent girls to remain silent and not report sexual assaults (http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/many-girls-view-sexual-violence-normal). In this atmosphere where girls accept sexual violence as normal and blame victims, a book like The Truth About Alice is a powerful and timely story that belongs in every library that serves teens. But it’s not only an important story, it’s well-written and an enjoyable read. I highly recommend this title for teens, their parents, and anyone who works with teens.

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About booksnquilts

I'm the Children's Services Coordinator for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Central Virginia.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, YA books and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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