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All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Publication: May 15th, 2018
Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery
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. . . .
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This book was really interesting. I loved it a lot because by the end I still had so many questions but not in a way that left me confused. I also liked that by the end I didn’t know who to blame. All Of This Is True follows the story of three girls, Miri, Soleil, and Penny, as they befriend their favorite YA novelist, Fatima Ro, and find themselves in her latest novel. But the novel has some dire consequences. The story was very intriguing and had me thinking a lot. Peñaflor created something unique here with this story and I have never read anything like it. Fatima “taught” the girls all about being inside/out and transparent with people. She got them to reveal all about their lives to her from their favorite color to their deepest darkest secrets. The story is told through interviews with Miri, Penny, and some secondary people, through journal/newspaper entries by Soleil, and excerpts from Fatima’s novel that is based on them or more so on their friend Jonah. I loved seeing how the story unfolded as all of them were obsessed with the author to two of them hating her. The story is all about these girls but it’s really about Jonah and what happened to him before he moved to their school. The whole story was a bit tense and I didn’t feel I could trust anyone because I just wanted to know what happened. By the end, it’s all a bit twisted and you really don’t know who to blame. But, personally, I blame everyone for what happened. I blame the girls for being so obsessed with this lady and letting her into their lives so deeply and one of them saying a secret that wasn’t theirs to tell. I blame Jonah for doing what he did. I blame Fatima for being an adult and manipulating teens so that she can write a novel. It was crazy and I recommend this to anyone who likes a bit of mystery and thrill.
As I said, the author had a twisted and mysterious way of writing this book. I commend her for writing all characters that were highly unlikable and annoying but still drawing you in. When I say that, don’t take that as anything bad. I don’t think you’re meant to love these people but you’re meant to be drawn in and what to know what the hell lead to what happened. The author did really good with the tone and voice of the characters because they really sounded like young teens. The interview really felt like one. As we delve deeper into the story we see how tense things got. The story is pretty emotionally captivating at times especially during the excerpts and finding out about Jonah. The story is simple, easy, and fast to read. You can make it through the story incredibly fast and it is rather enjoyable.
Miri idolizes Fatima. She is unflinchingly loyal even in the aftermath of things. Personally, I think she is in denial about Fatima and is the classic case of not seeing that she was manipulated. She didn’t feel what Fatima did was wrong. But no adult should have teens in her home, texting and calling them, manipulating them into spilling her secrets (she literally yelled at one of the TEENS for not telling her enough of a juicy secret) and emotionally manipulate teens. Soleil was a writer in the making. She was slightly obsessed with everything Fatima did. I think she was the most emotionally manipulated because she wanted to do everything to please Fatima. Penny was the “airhead” and immensely insecure. She was very jealous and lonely because she felt Fatima didn’t pay as much attention to her as the others. She felt underappreciated and wanted to be noticed so badly. Jonah had a dark past, was quiet, awkward, and was the main character of Fatima’s new novel. He wound up in a coma because of the book and it was very interesting learning about him. Fatima was TWENTY-THREE-YEARS-OLD hanging out with teens and getting them to tell her everything about their life. She was manipulative, mean at times, took advantage of teens, 100% predatory, and used her power play to get what she wanted.
“…You see, the basic human need for emotional intimacy can’t be satisfied by a sushi station or celebrity DJ.”
“…We shared being in the universe together.”
“There’s something about doors. They can be beautiful and ornate or colorful and friendly or chipped and weathered. But you can never tell what’s inside.” (This was a major metaphor/foreshadow to Fatima & Jonah)
“…You can’t hug a lion and then be surprised when he bites you.”
No, you’re my second chance. You’re my reclaimed innocence. You’re my hope beyond hope.