Alice Franklin has a bad reputation.
What has she done, you ask.
Well, she slept with two boys at the school year kick-off party. She’s promiscuous — so much so that she’s had an abortion. And she got the star quarterback killed because she was obsessed with him and kept texting him, causing him to become distracted while driving.
But are any of these things The Truth About Alice?
Told from a rotating first-person point of view from four people who interact with Alice, Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel seeks to fill in some of the details, looking at what is true and what’s been greatly exaggerated. It’s fairly clear from the early moments of the novel that no one could be nearly as awful as everyone says Alice is, but there are some grains of truth in the rumors. But those grains may not always have been planted exactly where you think they were.
I’ll admit some of the revelations seem a bit obvious — but that’s with the benefit of spending a few chapters with each character and finding out that he or she knows more than he or she is telling. The novel doesn’t shy away from the devastation Alice feels or the shame she endures. It also serves as an interesting warning about the power of words and how sometimes people may be protesting too much.
Alice isn’t a saint. But then again, neither is anyone else. And this novel is an interesting way to look at not only how the various characters view Alice but also themselves.
It’s a fascinating read and one that may linger with you a bit after the final page is turned.