Mathieu, Jennifer. The Truth About Alice. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2014. Print.
Something told me to read this book before I put it on the shelf. I thought I needed to know the content (remember reading Go Ask Alice?). I shouldn't have worried.
What happens when the rumor mill starts?
Early in the book, I felt that Mathieu must have visited Stephenville. She describes the fictional town of Healy in ways that I thought she was writing about Stephenville. "Football is enormous in Healy, but Healy itself is not. It's basically...just far enough away from the city that it can't really be considered a suburb, but it's not big enough to be considered much more than just a small town" (Mathieu 5). There is much pride in the town's football program and players. This is important because the star quarterback is involved with Alice's rumors. "The biggest store is a Walmart and we have to drive an hour and ten minutes to go to a real mall" (Mathieu 5). Yep, she's been here.
This is Alice's story, even though she only has one chapter--the last. The story is told from 4 different classmates who all "know" what happened one night at a party.
Elaine is popular and a bully. She has fooled many parents, teachers and community members. Kelsie is the "new girl" who got to reinvent herself when she moved to Healy. She tries to hang on to this new status no matter the cost. Josh is Brandon's best friend. Josh was with Brandon on the night he died. And then there's Kurt. Kurt is the math genius with a crush on Alice. He is also Brandon's neighbor. Mathieu's characters are believable.
As I read this book, I kept thinking about my daughter and how I hope she will avoid the mill. I also thought about students and how they deal with the rumors that circulate. Thinking of both angles made me apprehensive and sad. I remember rumors in high school; how I was part of them and how I probably perpetuated them as well. However, with the use of social media, kids today have an entirely different experience with rumors.
Right after I finished reading this book, I learned that Jennifer Mathieu will be at my library conference this year. I'm going to seek her out and thank her for this book. I think there are many good lessons in here, especially the value of having hope.