Title: All Of This Is True
Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Publication Date: May 31st 2018
Rating: 🌟 🌟
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
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. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!
Trigger warning for sexual assault.
All Of This Is True is a novel about four teens – Miri, Penny, Soleil and Jonah – who jump at the chance of befriending their favourite author, Fatima Ro. Told in a variation of interviews, journal entries and book excerpts, it explores the toxicity of relationships with a power imbalance and demonstrates what happens when certain boundaries are crossed.
The multiple narrative is quite easy to follow and the novel itself, despite being lengthy, is a quick read from start to finish. This is particularly helped by the fluid timeline of events; each extract flows well into the next event of the story and the length of each ‘chapter’ ensures the book does not bore the reader with its lack of plot.
I finished the novel not really understanding the purpose behind why it was written. And, at one point, I couldn’t remember which characters were from the novel and which characters were from the novel within the novel. Perhaps, it was the intention of the author for the two storylines to eventually become muddled – illustrating the fine line between fiction and reality – but the whole thing just required too much brain work.
The excerpts from Fatima’s novel were also incredibly unrealistic. The writing style just did not reflect that of someone who is supposedly a best-selling author and, in all honesty, I couldn’t really fathom why Fatima would choose to write about four pretentious teens whose story and personalities were just bland. The only person that I felt even an ounce of sympathy for was Penny.
Overall, the format and synopsis of this novel may be appealing but the book within a book within a book situation is likely to leave you feeling rather confused.