All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Published by Bloomsbury on May 31, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: First 5
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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. . . .
Have you heard of First 5 from Epic Reads? It’s an email newsletter that lets you read the first 5 chapters of featured Young Adult books. It’s a great way to find new writers and to get a feel if you’d like to read them. This past week’s featured book was All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor, and this is what I thought about the first 5 chapters.
All of This is True is about a group of 4 teenagers who get befriended by their favorite Young Adult author. They find themselves bonding with her and sharing all their deepest secrets while driven by the high of a celebrity showing them attention. It never occurs to them that she would betray them and use their stories to write her next bestseller.
The novel begins after the book has already been released. The group is dealing with the ugly aftermath, including Jonah, who is in the hospital after being horribly beaten for something he did. In the first 5 chapters, the reader doesn’t learn what the boy did, but is quickly introduced to how the teens met each other and their history hosting amazing parties, and their eventual run-in with the novelist.
The book is an interesting mix of interviews, journal entries, and excerpts from the actual book. This technique is called mixed-media and is one way to layer the events and flashbacks in a story to create intrigue. Penaflor does this effectively and the reader gets drawn into each character’s description of the events as they unfold.
While the use of mixed-media was interesting to me, I found it a little difficult to fully immerse myself in the beginning of story. The dialogue or what the characters spoke is what held me back. The teenagers came off older than their intended age. The insight felt too mature. To me, that threatened the believability. Will that hold me back from reading the rest of the story? Well, it’s not at the top of my list to read, but I’m still interested in finding out what happened to Jonah. I’m imagining something “13 Reasons Why” -esque.
So, I’m adding this to my “Maybe List”.