Book Review: The Truth About Alice (Jennifer Mathieu)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

Pages: 336

Release Date: March 8th 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.
But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?
It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumour has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the ‘slut stall’ in the girls’ bathroom at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumours start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable novel, four Healy High students – the party girl, the car accident survivor, the ex best friend and the boy next door – tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.


This was a really interesting book told from several different points of view. Everyone at school has an opinion about Alice and what a slut she is, but no one asks Alice what the truth is. Each of the narrators knows a rumour about Alice that isn’t true, but none of them will admit it to everyone else, so the rumours around Alice grow out of control.

The other characters in the book are just as stereotyped as Alice: the popular girl, the jock, the nerd and they all have their own secrets to hide, as well as their truths about Alice. I loved the way each of them started out sounding every bit the high school clique but the more you read, the more they become real, 3D characters and not cliches.

The split narrative worked really well in this book. It felt like a character study rather than a plot-driven story, with each person revealing a little more of themselves and Alice each time. They all had distinct voices and I loved the different perspective each one brought.

This book showed the reasons behind everyone’s lies and how that led to rumours and often cruel treatment of Alice. Although there’s definitely malice from some, others are just trying to fit in or cover up their own secrets. While that doesn’t excuse their behaviour, it humanises them and adds depths to this story.

I’ve been reading a lot of books on feminism and treatment of women lately and this was another that really set me thinking. I think it is essential reading for teenagers and will definitely be recommending it to everyone I can.

Book Review: She, Myself and I (Emma Young)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 352

Release Date: March 8th 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ever since Rosa’s nerve disease rendered her quadriplegic, she’s depended on her handsome, confident older brother to be her rock and her mirror. But when a doctor from Boston chooses her to be a candidate for an experimental brain transplant, she and her family move from London in search of a miracle. Sylvia—a girl from a small town in Massachusetts—is brain dead, and her parents have agreed to donate her body to give Rosa a new life. But when Rosa wakes from surgery, she can’t help but wonder, with increasing obsession, who Sylvia was and what her life was like. Her fascination with her new body and her desire to understand Sylvia prompt a road trip based on self-discovery… and a surprising new romance. But will Rosa be able to solve the dilemma of her identity?


This book had a really interesting premise and deals with themes of identity and what makes you, you.

Rosa has a nerve disease that means she is a quadriplegic, but is offered a new chance at life with an experimental brain transplant. But after the surgery Rosa questions who she really is and obsesses over Sylvia, the girl whose body she now has. She embarks on a journey to discover more about who Sylvia was and who Rosa is now.

There’s a great idea behind this book but I felt the pacing was a little slow for me. There’s a lot of Rosa questioning who she is and not a lot of action. I thought her approach to the new body was a bit strange. While I’ve never been in that situation so can’t say for sure, I feel like I’d be more excited about being able to walk again and less worried about not being myself anymore. But I suppose teenagers often struggle with their identity so it must be doubly hard when you don’t see your own face in the mirror.

Where this book really got to me was when Rosa met Sylvia’s father. I felt more for his position than for Rosa: I can’t imagine losing Little Moore, donating his body and then knowing he’s walking around out there, even if there’s someone else in his head. Knowing that his body is out there living and aging but he’s not my boy anymore is just painful.

There’s a romance story with Rosa and Joe, a reporter she meets outside the hospital. I liked his background story and could see how it linked in with Rosa, but I didn’t really feel the need for a love story in this. I thought Rosa’s relationship with her brother, Elliot, was a lot more interesting and would have liked her to take this journey of discovery with him instead.

Also, tiny pet peeve but as Rosa is supposed to be from England it annoyed me that she mentioned the ‘fall’ leaves a few times.

This was an interesting and thought-provoking book with a fascinating concept but a slow pace and little action dragged it down for me.

Book Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay (Laura Steven)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Pages: 337

Release Date: March 8th 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…


This is one of those books which just clicked right away for me.

Izzy is an amazing narrator: she’s funny, she’s sensitive – in her own way – and she just reads like a teenage girl. I immediately connected with her and her life: the way she uses comedy to shield herself from things, the way family means more to her than throwing everything into a pipe dream. It’s odd to get that narrative in a book – usually, it’s all ‘follow your dreams’, no matter the consequences. I liked that Izzy had ambitions, but also at her core wanted to take care of her Grandma Betty, who’d worked really hard to look after Izzy after her parents died.

At a party one night, Izzy has sex with two boys, one who happens to be a local politician’s son, and someone takes pictures and suddenly everyone knows about it. While Izzy is called a slut and degraded at every opportunity, there’s little to no fall out for the boys involved. And, as Izzy says, that is the exact opposite of okay.

This is such a current topic, with talks about revenge porn, consent and feminism featuring prominently in the media at the moment. My favourite thing about it was that Izzy constantly affirms to herself that she did nothing wrong. Despite everyone’s opinions about it – and everyone is more than ready to share those opinions – there’s nothing wrong with being a girl and enjoying sex and having sex with multiple partners. If that’s what you want to do, as long as you’re safe about it, that should be fine. It’s fine when we talk about guys doing it. So why is it that when a girl does it, she’s branded a slut and told she should kill herself?

This book happily sits alongside some of my favourite feminist young adult books, including The Spinster Trilogy by Holly Bourne as well as books that deal with consent and treatment of girls, like Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. It’s the kind of book I want to give to my teenage sisters, to inspire them and empower them, because that’s how I felt reading this book. I would have loved this as a teenager.

It’s not all empowerment though – for a funny book, there are some seriously dark and sad moments in this. Even though Izzy tries to hold her head high and let things wash over her, it’s hard when you’re the target of so much hate. I wanted to cry a few times throughout the book because I just felt so bad for Izzy.

There’s also some interesting bits on the ‘friend zone’ and ‘nice guy’ syndrome. You know the type: the ones who have been nice to you, listened to you moan about other boys and been there for you, then suddenly decide that means they’re entitled to your love. It’s interesting the way the nice guy in the story is portrayed, as you can see in his head he is doing things right by Izzy, but from her point of view it’s insulting and creepy and just ruining their friendship. It’s not something I’ve seen in a book before and it’s a great way of pointing out to teens as something to look out for. Remember, you don’t owe guys anything, no matter how ‘nice’ they’ve been to you!

Overall this was just a really fantastic read. It can be uncomfortable and upsetting at points, but sometimes I think the best books are. It will really make you think, make you laugh, and hopefully you’ll come away from it feeling as inspired and empowered as I did.

Copy of an art exhibit