FOUR YA-OBSESSED TEENS BEFRIEND THEIR FAVORITE NOVELIST.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU.
In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.
Miri Tan loved the book ‘Undertow’ like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialist party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was—and she was willing to share all her secrets with Fatima Ro to prove it.
Jonah Nicholls had more to hide than any of them. And now that Fatima’s next book is out in the world, he’s the one who is paying the price…
Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying—and told as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the book—this gripping story of a fictional scandal will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
*****some of the information in this review is a bit spoiler-y!
Fans of Goldy Moldavsky’s ‘Kill the Boy Band’ and A.V. Geiger’s ‘Follow Me Back’ will simply devour this stunning novel. Told through journal entries, interviews and excerpts this book will keep you hooked until the end.
The premise of this book intrigued me as soon as I heard about it. The all caps lettering that is at the start of this post is what is printed on the back of the ARC. The ARC doesn’t even have the official synopsis that I included above it simply has the two sentences that I shared with all of you. If you’re looking for a fun, feel good novel I would suggest you look elsewhere. You won’t find that within these pages.
What you will find is a story of love, loss and betrayal. At it’s core, ‘All of This is True’ is a heartbreaking warning about trust and the danger of getting too caught up in the life of someone you admire. It’s a story about friendship, first love and the hope and desperation for redemption.
The book is set up in three different parts that are intertwined with each other and switch off. There aren’t actual chapter numbers. The first is through interview transcripts. Miri and Penny are being interviewed about Fatima Ro’s newest novel ‘The Absolution of Brady Stevenson’, a book that is basically an autobiography of them and their friends lives. Naturally, Fatima is receiving a lot of backlash over it since many people feel that she manipulated the kids for her own selfish needs of writing her book. She basically was the puppet master and was able to, in a way, micromanage and manipulate each of them. Then when she had gotten what she wanted, which was material for her book, she moved out without a word, leaving all the kids behind to deal with the revelation of Jonah’s horrible past and their crumbling relationships with each other.
Miri is the only one who stays completely loyal to Fatima. Soleil and Penny are incredibly angry and upset, which is how I would feel if I were in their position. After all, if you told someone your deepest and darkest secrets because you thought they were you friend only to find that they never really seemed to have your best interests at heart, how would you feel? Especially after Jonah ends up in a coma after being beaten up and left with a copy of Fatima’s newest book placed on his chest by his attackers.
As for Jonah’s “precious truth”, I guessed what it was pretty quickly once a few details from his past were revealed. Despite his horrendous past, Jonah does seem to be a good guy at heart. It’s conflicting for me to talk about him because he is very multi-faceted. Since he has so many layers to him, as a well written character should, it doesn’t seem right to categorize him as a good or bad person. Has he done good things? Yes, he has. Has he done bad things? The answer to that is also yes. Of course, this is not to say that all of the other characters are saints by any means either.
One of the best parts of the book is that it’s easy to become enamored and sucked in to each character’s point of view on Fatima and her new book. Although I do think it was wrong of her to write word for word everything that they confided in her with, it’s not hard to understand why she did it. She needed a story, and she was able to manipulate Miri, Jonah, Penny, Soleil and even some of their friends to an extent, into becoming interesting characters for her novel. Even though it’s pretty messed up, it’s also quite remarkable and impressive. Of course the teens were impressionable. They loved Fatima and her first book and couldn’t believe that they got to hang out with her. It would be like if your favorite celebrity suddenly let you and your three closest friends into her inner circle. Her influence was incredibly strong over them. She was undeniably charismatic, there’s no doubt about that.
Almost all of the characters that Fatima “creates” in her novel have the same first letter in their names as the person that she is writing about. The only two whose names do not follow this are Jonah’s and Fatima’s. Jonah’s name is changed to Brady and Fatima changes her own name to Thora. That’s something that I noticed pretty quickly, since it struck me as slightly odd. My guess as to why that is is because both Brady and Thora’s stories end a bit differently than they did in real life. From the title, we know that Brady finds his own sense of redemption. We all know from the start of the entire novel that Jonah is in a coma. Fatima changes how she handled her end of the situation by apologizing for her behavior instead of running away and penning a book about the group of friends. It seems that Fatima has no problem treating people horribly, because she knows that all she needs to do is to write another book where she has the character that represents herself do the right thing, so that in her mind she is relieved from the guilt that she herself did the wrong thing. When I think about it, she actually sounds extremely pathetic and sad.
All of the characters in this book are 100 percent responsible for their actions. There’s no doubt about that. However, it doesn’t seem right that all of their private dirty laundry gets aired out in front of millions. I can’t decide whether or not Fatima is a good writer. I’ll explain both sides of my opinion and why I can’t make up my mind. It’s clear that she knows how to write descriptively and with feeling, but she doesn’t bring a lot of originality to the table. By copying word for word, action for action what the teenagers did and said, she isn’t really creating characters. She’s basically writing a biography. It feels cheap that she used them and barely put her own spin on it other than the ending and slightly changing their names. On the other hand, assuming that she was manipulating them all the entire time to create an interesting plot that she could write about is almost like she was writing in real life in real time. So that’s why I’m so conflicted. She’s really a manipulative mastermind the more I think about it.
Overall this is a fantastic read. As you can tell from the number of paragraphs that make up this review, I could talk about this book for hours. There’s a sort of cliffhanger ending that felt a bit frustrating so the ending is left up for your own interpretation. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed ‘Kill The Boy Band’, since I’m not 100 percent sure what genres this book actually falls under. Keep an eye out for it since it doesn’t come out until May 15. I’ve included preorder links below.
Connect with the author!
You can follow Lygia Day Peñaflor on Twitter at @lygiaday.
Preorder a copy of ‘All of This is True’
I am hosting an ARC tour for ‘All of This is True’ and received this book for free in return for an honest review. The links below will go live as soon as the other participants read and review the book on their own blogs.
Ryan at ‘Unbookly’
Amber at ‘YA Indulgences’
Kelly at ‘Here’s To Happy Endings’