Parents' Guide to

All of This Is True

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Writer uses teens' secrets for stories in riveting thriller.

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This sharp, riveting social drama and psychosocial thriller is impossible to put down. Author Lygia Day Peñaflor goes meta with All of This Is True, spinning a YA story about a YA author who mines the lives of teens for her subject matter. The novel starts out feeling like fluff, but as it progresses it delves into interesting issues around teen social structures, mob mentality, social media, and who stories belong to. Because of the shallowness of their lives, Miri, Soleil, Penny, and Jonah are so thrilled by the friendship and reflected fame of being close to famous author Fatima Ro that they don't question why an adult would want to be their friend, or the downsides of exposing their entire lives to her. The subject resonates in this over-sharing era of lifestyle bloggers, influencers, and Instagram fame. The thriller aspect comes from the creepiness of Fatima's cult-like hold over the teens and her new-age terminology that they weave into their lives, such as "inside/out" for total transparency and "precious truths" for their deepest thoughts.

The format of the book is interesting but bogs it down at the outset. Between the two television interviews, the published journal excerpts, and passages from two novels, there's a lot to keep track of. But it falls into place about one-third of the way into the story.

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