A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Psychological issues, including trauma, examined. A look into how some authors use other peoples' stories in their works.
Idol worship can be dangerous. Be careful who you trust with your secrets and deepest emotions. Real friends care about each other's well being.
Positive Role Models
Penny and Soleil make some dubious decisions, but they're the most honest and caring of the characters in the book. Jonah works to confront his issues, though he, too, doesn't always go about things in the right way.
Violence & Scariness
Kid in a coma from a beating, but the violence isn't shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A romantic relationship figures prominently in the plot. Some scenes of kissing and making out, a few of which are graphically described.
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Characters swear, but not frequently, including "bitch," "damn," "God," "s--t," "p---y," "f--k," "bastard," and "ballsy."
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Products & Purchases
Most of the characters are wealthy and status conscious, so labels are important to them. Some of the brands and media mentioned include Lululemon, Kate Spade, various haute couture designers, Range Rover, Mercedes, Audi, Fitbit, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and the TV shows The Bachelor and Pretty Little Liars.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All of This Is True is about the manipulative relationship between four teens and the YA author they idolize. The story is part social drama, part psychological thriller. Flattered to be befriended by a novelist whose work they love, the shallow, status-conscious teens eat up the attention she shines on them, to disastrous consequences. The story is set in a wealthy community on New York's Long Island, where the teens attend an exclusive private school. Cliques, privilege, elitism, and social-media fame all factor into the story. Characters make some bad decisions, though there's no drinking or drug use in the book. Characters swear infrequently, including "s--t," "f--k," and "bitch." Issues of honesty, social status, cliques, and idol worship provide interesting discussion topics.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.