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Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them 2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can't tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that hap Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them 2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can't tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep." 1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They're on top of the world—until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team's "legendary" parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire. The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can't remember—but which has nevertheless shaped her life—will she take it? An inventive and breathtaking exploration of a woman finding her voice in the wake of trauma, True Story is part psychological thriller, part fever dream, and part timely comment on sexual assault, power, and the very nature of truth. Ingeniously constructed and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages, it marks the debut of a singular and daring new voice in fiction.


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Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them 2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can't tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that hap Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them 2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can't tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep." 1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They're on top of the world—until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team's "legendary" parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire. The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can't remember—but which has nevertheless shaped her life—will she take it? An inventive and breathtaking exploration of a woman finding her voice in the wake of trauma, True Story is part psychological thriller, part fever dream, and part timely comment on sexual assault, power, and the very nature of truth. Ingeniously constructed and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages, it marks the debut of a singular and daring new voice in fiction.

30 review for True Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dita has the 'rona!

    Harrowing and thought provoking, I loved the unique style of this book. Not just a good story but also a careful examination of the devastating impact of rumors, ruined reputations, sexual assault and the disparity between the way we view men's and women's sexuality. I was stunned by the conclusion...in the good way. Go into this one as absolutely blind as you can. TW: Sexual assault, rape, and alcoholism.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Wowza! We have a real genius author in literature town who made me truly gobsmacked, speechless! I’m sucker punched, paralyzed, sitting on the floor( because the author pulled out from under me) and raising my glass for true intelligence, creative, unique, extremely original writing style! Yes, my friends, this underrated, hidden gem earned my five gazillion you fooled me twice and shame on me stars! The story starts in high school, two popular lacrosse team members raped a private school girl w Wowza! We have a real genius author in literature town who made me truly gobsmacked, speechless! I’m sucker punched, paralyzed, sitting on the floor( because the author pulled out from under me) and raising my glass for true intelligence, creative, unique, extremely original writing style! Yes, my friends, this underrated, hidden gem earned my five gazillion you fooled me twice and shame on me stars! The story starts in high school, two popular lacrosse team members raped a private school girl who is drunk, passed out at the front seat of a car and after getting bullied for months, she committed suicide but she survived. At least that is the part of Alice’s story: she is the girl who has been mentally and psychically abused. Only one person stands for her: Haley: successful runner, skilled writer, golden girl of the school. The other narrator of the story was Nick, struggling to keep his scores high at lacrosse team, friend of two accused rapers ( Max and Richard), having long time crush on Hailey. Richard is his childhood friend dreaming of going to Naval Academy, mostly a decent guy, concentrating on his future. Nick choses him over Hailey who is advocating Alice’s rights and declares a war against them. He gives statement to the police, lying for Richard and the case closes. After 15 years later, the things didn’t work well for Alice who survived from a toxic and dangerously abusive relationship and now she wants to make documentary about the events about her assault which will open a lot of cans of worms, needing help of Hailey’s filmmaking and entrepreneurship skills. And 15 years later, things also don’t go smoothly for Nick either. He is alcoholic, suffering from hallucinations, broke, chased by past demons. Now he learns he has a daughter and he needs to find alimony money ASAP to be part of their lives. The documentary project brings out those so called friends together. Richard tries to shut the production and he needs Nick’s help. But Nick still has second thoughts if his friend has told him the whole truth. The story is told by two inaccurate narrators who are mostly drunk, sedated, suffering from psychological problems. We don’t know who’s lying or who is telling the whole truth! You gotta give your attention! And there are remarkable essay pages and most entertaining B horror screenplay examples which I enjoyed a lot. And the final twist was impeccably well developed and extremely clever! If you want to read something mind numbing, different, gripping with flawed and broken but still connectable characters, this addictive, unputdownable, dazzling novel will satisfy all your literature thirst! Don’t have second thoughts to add your humongous TBR and enjoy your reading!

  3. 5 out of 5

    karen

    as promised, a photographic update. it is also my birthday week, so i'm counting this as a present! tadaaa!!! because plague, book tours aren't happening, so kate reed petty did a postcard tour instead! there were options - i chose one from the cabin sequence for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book, and i love it! it reminds me of home but ALSO gives me chills, for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book. please do not laugh at how inexpertly i affixed mine into the book with my ( as promised, a photographic update. it is also my birthday week, so i'm counting this as a present! tadaaa!!! because plague, book tours aren't happening, so kate reed petty did a postcard tour instead! there were options - i chose one from the cabin sequence for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book, and i love it! it reminds me of home but ALSO gives me chills, for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book. please do not laugh at how inexpertly i affixed mine into the book with my (included) photo corner stickers. hear that, literary culture?? I DO THINGS FOR YOU!! feel free to send one of your representatives to hire me to do more of those things. NOW AVAILABLE!! one of the last social events i attended before the pandemic shut nyfc down was an end-of-february cocktail party showcasing a bunch of PRH’s summer releases, and this book was one of them. the memory of the evening is, to me, marked by a bittersweet nostalgia for that carefree time when one could mingle unmasked amongst other booknerds, sipping fancy alcohols and chatting, getting home safely and uninfected. to segue with EXTREME GRACE into the actual book-review part, the character whose “true story” is at the center of this unclassifiable debut is a woman named alice who, as a teenager, also spent an evening drinking at a party before passing out in the backseat of the car driving her home, waking up the next day with no memory of the sexual assault the teenage, lacrosse-playing driver and his teammate-pal are bragging about committing upon her while she was unconscious. the novel takes place over the next fifteen-or-so years, but it is far from a straightforward narrative—it shifts repeatedly between various genres, formats, and POVs into something resembling a mash-up between Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Thirteen Reasons Why, a lifetime original movie, and some A24 film. the story of that night’s events and its aftermath comes out piecemeal in emails, transcriptions of audio interviews, successive drafts of annotated college admission essays, and screenplays; it crosses from realism over into horror and stylized noir; it mixes up fact and fiction and memory until the "true" part of the story is as muddled to the reader as it is to alice herself. the constant changeups make this an incredibly fast read, and one very hard to put down—it destabilizes the reader with what is essentially one hook after another, and before you ask—yes, virginia, there is a closure. at that pre-plague cocktail party, the author was discussing how early readers of this novel kept commenting to her about how “timely” it was; what with the me too movement, its subsequent trials and the slew of survivor memoirs and polemical feminist texts that were suddenly dominating the publishing industry. and then she revealed that she’d begun writing this in 2015, which is funny and ALSO depressing. another thing that is both funny and depressing is that here we are, and now this book is being released into a world transformed, where the subject matter is no less timely or relevant, but it has become somewhat o’ershadowed by…well. it's an inventive way to tell a story whose details are all-too-"ripped-from-the-headlines"-familiar: the victim blaming, the protective closing of ranks around the accused, the gaslighting, the gulf between truth and memory or truth and belief. for alice, the incident derails her life—not only what was done to her, but the slut-shaming, gossip, and rumors that followed, leading to the predictable fallout: a suicide attempt, an abusive relationship, and feelings of shame and low self-esteem hounding her as she grows into adulthood shaped by her damage. ironies abound here: alice becomes a professional ghostwriter—someone who can’t remember her own story helping other people tell theirs—who is being pressured by her documentarian friend haley into telling her story, which, for all the effects the traumatic incident has caused, is somehow not really “hers,” as she tries to explain to haley: You’ve always been the one who was brave—no, the one who was sure. You’ve always been so sure of the story you want me to tell, the story you’ve been asking me for since we were seventeen: The story about the things that happened while I was asleep. “It’s your story,” you would say. “If you don’t let it out, it will take over your life.” But the story is mine only as the victim owns the prosecution, or the whale the harpoon. Telling it has always been the privilege of the perpetrators, who have the actual facts, and of the bystanders—like you—who believe they know. it's a messy situation told in a deceptively messy way that'll surprise you with how tidily it resolves. i'd probably go on longer if megan abbott hadn't already reviewed this better than i ever could. i will confess that i am unreasonably angry at the UK cover for being so awesome: and soon, there will be a photographic update to this review. INTRIGUED??? come to my blog!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    Well, hot DANG, that final reveal was one the best-written reveals I have ever read!!! That reveal made the whole story for me, and I loved how the story came together with that reveal. True Story is an original, complicated, compelling, exciting thought-provoking story. If you love to delve into a story you will love this one! You will need to delve into it to benefit from the depth of the true story being explored here. The story starts with the truth or a rumour of a sexual assault, and we ar Well, hot DANG, that final reveal was one the best-written reveals I have ever read!!! That reveal made the whole story for me, and I loved how the story came together with that reveal. True Story is an original, complicated, compelling, exciting thought-provoking story. If you love to delve into a story you will love this one! You will need to delve into it to benefit from the depth of the true story being explored here. The story starts with the truth or a rumour of a sexual assault, and we are left wondering what the true story is with what happened after a night of drinking. With no memory of what happened to her, Alice is haunted by not being able to tell her own story. The focus is not on what happened that night, but more on the toxic male masculinity, "boys will be boys," rumours, the roles men and women are expected to play, and who has ownership of the true story. For me, the story was all about how it was written rather than how I connected emotionally to the story. The story explores ownership over your own story and the truth and who should tell that story. It's complicated by memory and rumours as it also explores how damaging rumours are when toxic male masculinity plays in. Not only with boys will be boys but the code to protect their own. How Kate Reed Petty goes about exploring ownership and delivers that final reveal is original and clever. She uses a few different formats like a play, college admission essays and emails with POVs like first, second and third person. At times this felt a bit much and disjointed from each other, throwing the pacing off for me. The second person felt jarring and did add some distance from connecting to the characters. After finishing the story, it didn't matter to me anymore because I was in such awe with that final reveal and how it came together. I wish I could explain that a better, but sometimes talking about the structure of the story can tip you off as to what to expect, and it's best to be surprised, and if you do figure things out you will feel very clever that you do! I would be surprised if you do! lol The ending left me with so much to think about and delve into, and it will be one I will be thinking about for quite some time. I highly recommend it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    WENT IN BLIND....LOVED IT.....( belongs with the addictive types) Traditional and non-traditional.... orthodox.....and unorthodox.... Radical....and open-minded..... liberal.....and unconventional.... This cleverly written book....is part psychological thriller...part cautionary tale....part sexual assault exploration....part examination of a malignant vindictive school rumor.... part coming of age...and part stories about stories...( through screenplays, and college admissions essays). Avant-gard WENT IN BLIND....LOVED IT.....( belongs with the addictive types) Traditional and non-traditional.... orthodox.....and unorthodox.... Radical....and open-minded..... liberal.....and unconventional.... This cleverly written book....is part psychological thriller...part cautionary tale....part sexual assault exploration....part examination of a malignant vindictive school rumor.... part coming of age...and part stories about stories...( through screenplays, and college admissions essays). Avant-garde crafting.....astutely original! - ( I saw the authors purpose for blending genres-and thought it worked well). This page turning ingenious way to tell a story is kinda groundbreaking. CEREBRALLY FASCINATING.....EMOTIONALLY HORRIFYING. Nick Brothers was a lacrosse player at a wealthy Maryland public High School. He drove Alice Lovett, a private school girl, home one night after a legendary lacrosse-team party. Alice was sitting in the back seat of the car with two other lacrosse players: Richard and Max. Something did.....or did not....happen that night....which leads to something else....which leads to something else ( not good)! Alice was passed out. Asleep. She remembered nothing. Richard and Max were in the back with Alice. We are not sure if the boys made up a bragging story - or if the sexual assault story was truthful. Nothing was good. Nick was the driver— he didn’t see anything — but he believes what he believes - mostly from Richard (his best long time friend).... There’s much going on on every page — This kaleidoscope type structure of mixed genres was great in the ebook format. I love audiobooks, but personally I’d stick to traditional ‘reading’ for this one. I not only questioned what happened that night, truths? Lies?, but the styling-storytelling -smorgasbord allowed a closer look at the consequences. A little excerpt: “I’m sure you thought I was still angry. The truth is I was embarrassed. You’ve always been the one who is brave—no, the one who was ‘sure’. You’ve always been so sure of the story you want me to tell, the story you’ve been asking me for since we were seventeen: the story about the things that happened while I was asleep. ‘It’s ‘your’ story’, you would say. ‘If you don’t let it out, it will take over your life’. But the story is mine only as a victim owns the prosecution, or the whale the harpoon. Telling it has always been the privilege of the perpetrators, who have the actual facts, and of the bystanders—like you—who believe they know”. Definitely looking forward to reading *Kate Reed Petty’s* next book! I love well written insightful contemporary novels....that requires critical thinking on my part - exploring real life possible situations-that we hope to god never happens to anyone. As for humor?.....YES....it’s mixed nicely with the horrors of reality. Powerful & enjoyable. 5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    OMG OMG OMG! I can’t sit still! I can barely breathe! Okay, okay, I’m being all dramatic, I know. It’s just that this book is such a mind bender! When I swallowed the last page, I headed straight for my pogo stick, no bones about it. I knew my only option was to bounce. The story starts in high school. A girl gets drunk, and two lacrosse boys drop her off on her doorstep. What happened that night affects a few students, who suffer silently for years. Two of these students become writers. I will sa OMG OMG OMG! I can’t sit still! I can barely breathe! Okay, okay, I’m being all dramatic, I know. It’s just that this book is such a mind bender! When I swallowed the last page, I headed straight for my pogo stick, no bones about it. I knew my only option was to bounce. The story starts in high school. A girl gets drunk, and two lacrosse boys drop her off on her doorstep. What happened that night affects a few students, who suffer silently for years. Two of these students become writers. I will say no more—go into this one blind if you can. My head is twirling like a top. The first thing that popped into my head as I started pogo-sticking down the road was Gone Girl. Now hold your horses—I’m not saying this book is as well-written or as iconic as Gone Girl, but it packs the same wallop. What the books have in common is a killer twist. Things are not what they appear to be, reality is all tilted. The writer does something genius and I can’t stop thinking about it. Now herein lies the rub—my Complaint Board is really big because the writing has a lot of problems. There are a couple of formatting issues that, of course, are not the author’s fault. Also note that I read an advance copy--things might have been improved or fixed by publication date. Joy Jar -Variety, anyone? The writer experiments with different formats, some of which jazz the story up. There’s a play, a college admissions essay, a transcribed interview. These extras don’t take over the book, though. Most of the narrative is plain text. I give the writer credit for ingenuity. -This writer is a smart cookie! The storyline is complex and it never got confusing. -Two wonderfully scary chapters. There are two long, edge-of-your-seat, scary chapters. They are beautifully written character studies. Both would be great short stories. Maybe they started as that? -A holy-moly finale! The ending is a whopper! -A cut above. The tone is sophisticated. For the most part, it’s a cut above your regular old thriller. It had a literary fiction feel to it. -Wanna come back for more. I definitely will be on the lookout for the author’s next book. -Pushing this book into my friends’ faces. I’ve already raved about this book to three friends and I barely finished reading it. Complaint Board But oh… (And beware: I’ve apparently morphed into my nit-picky, obnoxious editor self. I tried to whack her into oblivion but she’s standing strong.) -Ditch the play. There are several sections of a kid’s play scattered throughout the book. The play was awful—overly simplistic. The sections were just useless interruptions. I can sort of see what the writer was trying to do, but it didn’t work. -Ditch half the essay drafts. One chapter has a million drafts of an essay for a college application. Too many. -Can there be too many voices? The author uses them all: First-, second-, and third-person voices—pretty ambitious of her. It was jolting sometimes to have to abruptly change gears. I found the second-person voice especially hard to read. It’s like the more ingredients you add to a dish to make it gourmet, the bigger risk you have of messing up the taste. In other words, don’t add so many voices. -Point-of-view WTFs. There were occasional slip-ups in point-of-view, probably happening because there were so many changes in voice. This made me occasionally cross-eyed, not knowing whose point of view we were seeing it all from. It was sloppy; an editor should have been more vigilant. -Went to the store. Walked out with some bananas. There is no store and there are no bananas but what I mean is that there’s a formulaic style that some writers adopt. It’s the old “start every sentence with a verb; cut out clutter words” syndrome. (A friend took a writing class where the instructor insisted that everyone write in that verb-y style—she said all contemporary fiction needs to be written that way. I say it’s craziness, that it’s all wrong to have a standardized style.) It was too staccato for me. The writer used this style, albeit inconsistently. It really got weird because the different voices sometimes used this same style. Come on, not all the characters would speak in the same way! -A comedown after tasting the juice. The two luscious stand-alone chapters sort of trumped the main story for a while. The book seemed uneven: Heavy there, lighter elsewhere. I wanted the tension to always be turned up a notch. Other chapters paled in comparison. -Patience isn’t my strong suit. It took a little too long to see how all of it would pull together. Too long of a “Huh”? For a while, it seemed like the thread had gotten lost. We hear about a big event and for years, it seemed, I wondered when we would circle back. Formatting funnies: (not the writer’s fault, and they’re minor anyway): -Don’t look at me all bold like that. In my advance copy (on the Kindle), the play appeared in boldface and it was god-awful ugly. The bold shoved a thing I didn’t like right into my face, all loud. Plain italic or some other format would have worked so much better. -Where is my magnifying glass? Some of the college-essay drafts (the important ones), were way too tiny and light to read on the Kindle. I couldn’t make the font bigger (oh why?). I had to get out my magnifying glass, a total pain (especially since I had to find the magnifying glass first). I was an editor in my past life so it’s very possible all the writing problems I’ve so obnoxiously and primly listed on my Complaint Board would bother me and no one else. I wish I could read something without having the damn editor eye! I think the book needed a better editor. But this is a debut, so the writer gets a pass on polish. This book is so clever, it’s ridiculous. Like I said, it’s a little Gone Girlish but with a different shtick. So how to rate? My love of this book is 6 stars, but I just can’t dole out 5 stars, given my hugundous Complaint Board. Also, when I recommend it, I’ll always think of how the friend may hate the boldface play snippets more than I even did. It pains me, but I have to go with a 4. Okay, I’ll make it a 4.5 and round down. The book still goes on my list of favorite reads of the year. I just can’t stop bouncing. Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Imagine that your a 17 year old girl at the most legendary party, completely intoxicated, hardly able to even stand. Imagine getting a ride home by two lacrosse players. One driving and one who cozies up to you in the back seat. You've completely passed out. You are left on your porch with a lacrosse jacket laid across you. That's what you remember. Imagine finding out that while you were passed out in that back seat that these two boys sexually assaulted you. You don't have any recollections at Imagine that your a 17 year old girl at the most legendary party, completely intoxicated, hardly able to even stand. Imagine getting a ride home by two lacrosse players. One driving and one who cozies up to you in the back seat. You've completely passed out. You are left on your porch with a lacrosse jacket laid across you. That's what you remember. Imagine finding out that while you were passed out in that back seat that these two boys sexually assaulted you. You don't have any recollections at all. All you know is what these boys said and a rumor such as this spreads like wildfire through the entire community. The lacrosse team bans together and the two young men are never officially charged, life for them goes on, the world keeps spinning. For Alice her entire life is defined by this event eventually landing her in an abusive relationship due to her lack of confidence and self esteem. Her writing ambitions become completely halted so she ends up becoming a ghostwriter for other people. Perhaps in telling their stories she'll be able to figure hers out. We also follow Nick who was a lacrosse team mate of the two young men accused. We watch as his world spirals out of control from the event. Richard is his best friend and he wants to believe him but Max, he's another story and Nick can't be completely sure of what's true and what's not. For the most part I found this to be an interesting read. Told in a mixed-media format, something I normally love, didn't work completely for me here. The repetition of Alice's college transcript as well as the screenplays she wrote at 13 were completely unnecessary and I didn't enjoy them at all. However, and it's a big one, I loved everything else. Mark my words the ending is going to be divisive. At first I was like "WTF" but after ruminating on it a bit more I think I kind of love it. 4 stars! Thank you to Edelweiss and Viking for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Wow. Just wow. This will easily make my Top Books of 2020. I think it will largely benefit everyone to go into this as blind as possible. The only thing I would note is that there could be TW for sexual assault, alcoholism and psychological abuse. I finished this two weeks ago and it hasn't left my mind since. It is completely unique and straddles a couple of genres. It's relayed in multiple formats (first person narrative, emails, screen plays, etc.) and that might bother some. It jumps around Wow. Just wow. This will easily make my Top Books of 2020. I think it will largely benefit everyone to go into this as blind as possible. The only thing I would note is that there could be TW for sexual assault, alcoholism and psychological abuse. I finished this two weeks ago and it hasn't left my mind since. It is completely unique and straddles a couple of genres. It's relayed in multiple formats (first person narrative, emails, screen plays, etc.) and that might bother some. It jumps around in time, but at each section there is a time marker so you can try and piece it all together. When I got to the end, I was actually kind of stunned. I thought to myself (holy shit) and then this is either really going to annoy people or people are going to love this. I'm in the latter category. BIG TIME. Regardless of if the format sounds like it would work for you or not - I think what is another important thing to consider is just how much courage it took to write a DEBUT NOVEL in this way. The topic is very much in the news all the time right now, it brings up a lot of emotions for people and it's told from a bold perspective (both sides of the story). I wondered for a bit how I felt about this, but ultimately I think the author did it right. (Being deliberately vague on purpose, sorry.) All in all, I would highly recommend this to everyone. I want to start a fan club for this author and I very urgently want her to publish something else ASAP. I really hope you give this a try and love it as much as I did. Thank you to Edelweiss, Viking for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review. Also, thank you to the Buffalo Library for providing my print copy! Review Date: 09/14/2020 Publication Date: 08/04/2020

  9. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    The premise of True Story is simple and timely. In 1999, a couple of teen boys drive a passed-out drunk girl, Alice, home from a party. Afterwards, they brag to friends about assaulting her; later, they'll claim that story was made up. Alice herself can't remember that night, so she can never be sure which version of the story is true. It almost doesn't matter: her sense of self is defined by it anyway; it echoes down the years throughout her entire life. The book follows Alice for 17 years – or The premise of True Story is simple and timely. In 1999, a couple of teen boys drive a passed-out drunk girl, Alice, home from a party. Afterwards, they brag to friends about assaulting her; later, they'll claim that story was made up. Alice herself can't remember that night, so she can never be sure which version of the story is true. It almost doesn't matter: her sense of self is defined by it anyway; it echoes down the years throughout her entire life. The book follows Alice for 17 years – or it might be more accurate to say it follows the story. As well as chunks of straightforward narrative, it's related through various documents: drafts of Alice's college application essay, screenplay extracts, emails, interview transcripts. The story is partly told from the point of view of Nick, a friend of the boys. We follow Nick across the years too, and see what his life becomes; in one especially harrowing chapter, we experience the devastating effects of his alcoholism. Nick's life remains entwined with Alice's in many coincidental and unexpected ways. True Story reminded me of two other books published in 2020. The first, and most obvious, is Kate Elizabeth Russell's My Dark Vanessa, in which a woman reckons with the memory of the relationship she had with a middle-aged teacher when she was 15 years old. Both books explore the ramifications of sexual assault or abuse in one's teenage years, and how the central character's adulthood is shaped by these experiences. The second is Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands, which may seem an unlikely comparison – it's about an elderly woman trying to solve a murder. But both Moshfegh and Petty are doing similar things with their meta, circular narratives, examining what a story is and means as they tell it. And both books have titles that only reveal their cleverness once you've reached the end. Not for the first time, my main complaint about the book concerns the marketing rather than the story itself. The blurb leads with the claim that 'True Story is a novel like nothing you've ever read before'. That is quite a statement, and isn't really a good fit for what is actually fairly conventional, readable fiction. It doesn't play with or subvert genre as I was led to believe. I say this not to trash the book, which is very good, but to manage the expectations of anyone planning to read it. True Story is about the ways in which a story, rumour or belief can affect someone's life, regardless of what it is, and regardless of whether it's true. It also asks the reader to consider whether the nature of the telling affects what they believe. I admire the fearlessness of the author's approach: it's an interesting, involving, thought-provoking way to explore particularly knotty subject matter. I received an advance review copy of True Story from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Linktree

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erin (from Long Island, NY)

    (4.5 rounded up!) The audio was great!! This isn't the typical thriller i go for, but it was so good- i tore through it! Such a unique format... The pov's felt so real, truly expertly done. I can't wait to see what this author does next!

  11. 5 out of 5

    AtenRa

    I received an ARC of True Story from Hatchette Australia and these are my thoughts. Trigger warnings: sexual assault, abuse, alcoholism I am sitting here for the past 20 minutes trying to decide how to start this review and I am coming up empty. I can’t think of the right preface to really express my feelings about True Story. I personally thought it was brilliant; a thought provoking, captivating book, which will occupy your thoughts days after you finish it. That being said, I want to make so I received an ARC of True Story from Hatchette Australia and these are my thoughts. Trigger warnings: sexual assault, abuse, alcoholism I am sitting here for the past 20 minutes trying to decide how to start this review and I am coming up empty. I can’t think of the right preface to really express my feelings about True Story. I personally thought it was brilliant; a thought provoking, captivating book, which will occupy your thoughts days after you finish it. That being said, I want to make something clear: if you are after a horror/thriller book, this is not for you. Some people were disappointed that the twist ending didn’t have the impact they were expecting, or that it wasn’t suspenseful enough. That was never the point of the book, in my opinion, it goes so much deeper than that. The book was about these people’s lives, Alice and Nick’s in particular, and how the former’s sexual assault in high school affected their whole lives. I loved Petty’s writing. In addition to it being straightforward, brutally honest and to the point, it was also quiet addictive, which made even such a difficult-to-read book so un-put-downable. One my favourite parts was Alice’s essay drafts for college. Her frustration and desperation to write about anything but her assault, and her enormous effort to “focus on the positive” when it was practically impossible, is palpable. You can see it in the amount of drafts she writes (all included in the book), and their repetitive content. The final tutor-approved draft, showed Alice’s tenacity and ability to turn even a silly thing as shoes (who writes about shoes making an impact on their lives in a college essay??) to a feminist message. She was a sexually assaulted 18-year-old girl, who was made to focus on the positive (otherwise no college for her!) and she did the best she could, even though she would never accept the compliment or admit it to herself. My other favourite part was when Nick goes to the cabin. It got me hooked from the very first word and I didn’t put the book down until I finished the whole chapter. Nick’s voice filled me with dreadful anticipation of something horrible waiting to happen at any time. And something horrible was happening at any given time, because that was Nick’s life. It was awful and pitiful, but it didn’t make me feel sorry for him. I felt that Nick wouldn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him, because he believed he deserved everything that was happening to him. He was clearly self-destructive, and that cost him everything in his life. I truly believe he meant well, in a sense that he did not deliberately try to hurt anyone, but so many wrong-doers try to shake off responsibility claiming to have meant well, and Nick was the poster boy for that. In the end, I admired his self-awareness and recognition of the fact that he just wasn’t meant to have a good life, but he kept trying despite of that. At first, the twist about Nick at the end of the book didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t see how it was all connected and it just didn’t make sense to me. After more careful consideration, I realised that it’s what brings everything together in the end, and actually explains a lot. (view spoiler)[ For example, when I thought that Nick killing Q was a bit of a stretch. Of course it was, because it was fiction. Q is still alive. Or isn’t, we don’t know. It was part Alice’s wishful thinking, to finally kill the monster, and part wanting to make Nick do one heroic deed before he disappeared into fictional oblivion. Plus, his cabin chapter makes more sense when you realise it’s fiction. (hide spoiler)] In regards to the sexual assault and the revelation in the end, I believe it’s open to interpretation. Granted, Alice seemed convinced by Richard’s confession but let’s not forget that Richard is a master manipulator, he does that for a living! and he would say anything to avoid exposure. No matter if it did happen or not though, that is not the point. The point is the irreparable damage that even the smallest indication of sexual assault can do to the victim’s psyche. This experience shaped Alice’s whole adult life, that is an undeniable fact (see chapter with Q). Even if it’s ever proven otherwise years later, she couldn’t just go “Phew, what a relief!” and move on. Absolutely not. Something like that changes you forever and it is almost impossible to go back to a state when it didn’t happen. That being said, Alice, like with her essay drafts, finds a way to focus on the positive and manages to see a sliver of light at the end of a very dark, terrible tunnel. She decides to write her own narrative and not let anyone tell her story any more. She only knows her version to be true because it happened to her, it’s her story, which she says she used to punish those who hurt her, but also to forgive. This way, Petty expertly showcases the dichotomy between Alice’s still pervasive anger and her willingness to finally let go in the most satisfying ending this book could get. I am aware that this book deals with sensitive matters, but sometimes we need to get a little uncomfortable in order to face reality, because these things happen all over the world every day. I would definitely recommend it to teenage girls and boys-so much more to take away from than a superficial YA romance, in my opinion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    True Story is a genre-defying novel most appropriately described as literary crime and is also Kate Reed Petty’s gripping feminist debut, and I can't help but feel we will be hearing a lot more about her in the future. It follows Alice Lovett, a gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, who makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she cannot tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep." Back in 1999, Nick Brothers an True Story is a genre-defying novel most appropriately described as literary crime and is also Kate Reed Petty’s gripping feminist debut, and I can't help but feel we will be hearing a lot more about her in the future. It follows Alice Lovett, a gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, who makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she cannot tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep." Back in 1999, Nick Brothers and his high school lacrosse team return for their senior year in a well-to-do Baltimore suburb as the reigning state champs. The afterglow of their big win is bound to last until graduation; not even the pressure of college applications can get in the way of their fun. But when a private school girl attempts suicide in the wake of one of the team's "legendary" parties, and a rumour begins to circulate that two of Nick's teammates sexually assaulted her, it seems like it might ruin everything, until the team circles the wagons, casts doubt on the story, and the town moves on. But not everyone does. Fifteen years later, four people: Alice, Nick, a documentary filmmaker, and a wealthy entrepreneur — remain haunted by the roles they played, the things they still don't understand and how the story has shaped their lives. This is a compulsive and beautifully written book from the first page through to the last and at its heart is a meditation on the far-reaching consequences of a despicable crime on a small and tight-knit community. But the author doesn't stop there. She introduces the timely issues of toxic masculinity, male privilege, domestic abuse and a harrowing depiction of alcoholism to the narrative too, which only served to engross me in the story even more. It is very much a character-driven tale and gets deep into the heart of the matter of those impacted by revealing their most profound thoughts and feelings; it’s abundantly clear that a lot of detailed research went into their development. Highly recommended. Many thanks to riverrun for an ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    An impressive genre-blending debut, and one I think will be best enjoyed by going in pretty much blind. I devoured this in just a few hours, finding it near impossible to put down. The premise: it's the year 2000 and a teenage girl, Alice, is sexually assaulted by two young men after a party. The narrative then follows her - and a guy, Nick (who was at the party but not directly involved) in the immediate aftermath and then 8 years after the incident. The blurb describes it as "by turns a campus An impressive genre-blending debut, and one I think will be best enjoyed by going in pretty much blind. I devoured this in just a few hours, finding it near impossible to put down. The premise: it's the year 2000 and a teenage girl, Alice, is sexually assaulted by two young men after a party. The narrative then follows her - and a guy, Nick (who was at the party but not directly involved) in the immediate aftermath and then 8 years after the incident. The blurb describes it as "by turns a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir", which I'd say is pretty accurate - it's structured pretty ambitiously but Reed Petty definitely pulls it off. I enjoyed this enough that I was able to overlook a few flaws, but it's really a great read which I found both compelling and thought-provoking. Recommended! Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Books/riverrun for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maximilian Birner

    While I praise True Story for its uniqueness and its message, it really isn't the full package for me. My biggest complaint of True Story is how it doesn't feel like a complete story. While I enjoyed reading through the horror/thriller screenplays and draft essays, we really only got a STORY at the beginning and end of the book. It seemed like there was supposed to be a twist ending, but revealing new details about the plot at the last fifty pages really didn't do it for me. It was hard for me to While I praise True Story for its uniqueness and its message, it really isn't the full package for me. My biggest complaint of True Story is how it doesn't feel like a complete story. While I enjoyed reading through the horror/thriller screenplays and draft essays, we really only got a STORY at the beginning and end of the book. It seemed like there was supposed to be a twist ending, but revealing new details about the plot at the last fifty pages really didn't do it for me. It was hard for me to pick up this book, and it took a lot of revisiting because I'd always read through the screenplays really fast and have to slowly endure the normally written parts of the book. The genre-bending was okay, but it didn't "stand out" as much as I hoped. Definitely more of a slow-paced thriller with an underdeveloped plot. True Story gets an extra star due to a fifty-page segment somewhere around the middle of the book where one of the characters is drafting a college essay. It's funny, sad, interesting, and adds a lot more depth than any other segment of the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    UPDATE: Was just sitting with this book more and exchanging messages about how it left me feeling and dropped by review down to a 2⭐️ I again recognize the unique way in which the book was written weaving together tradition story, fever dream insanity, the college essay and screenplay devices. But I just cannot get past that ending. I still plan to do some more research on the author and hopefully gain some insight into her story decisions, but I don't think any of that will wash away the truly g UPDATE: Was just sitting with this book more and exchanging messages about how it left me feeling and dropped by review down to a 2⭐️ I again recognize the unique way in which the book was written weaving together tradition story, fever dream insanity, the college essay and screenplay devices. But I just cannot get past that ending. I still plan to do some more research on the author and hopefully gain some insight into her story decisions, but I don't think any of that will wash away the truly gross feeling I still have nearly three months later. __________________________ ORIGINAL REVIEW: 3.5⭐️ I have some super complicated feelings about this book. I was totally intrigued by the storyline but this book wound up not quite being what I expected, which isn't where the complicated feelings come in. I finished it yesterday afternoon and wanted to sit with it in hopes I'd have a little more clarity....but nope....still complicated....so here we go. We get perspectives from Nick and Alice and it's almost more of a few slice of life vignettes from each of them over a 15 year period. I will mark the spoilers, but here's the set-up for the book: Back in 1999 Nick was a senior in high school and one of the stars of his school's lacrosse team. The players were beloved by the school and the community and the boys were basically hero worshipped. The team was known for throwing legendary parties and in the aftermath of one of these parties two of the players start bragging about how they drove a drunk girl home (known to them only as "private school girl", but we know is Alice) and while she was passed out they sexually assaulted her. Yup. You read that right. These boys don't see anything wrong with what they did and wear it as a badge of honor. But when the rumor circulates far beyond the team and the police get involved the story takes on a life of its own. Alice has no memory of what happened that night - she has only the rumors to accept as the truth of what happened, as she says, "when I was asleep". That night haunts Alice for years to come and shapes her entire life. We check in with Nick and Alice at various points in their lives after high school. Stylistically I was at times intrigued and other times confused. The author tries a few different formats - email messages, movie script pages, dialogue without quotes, dialogue with quotes and varying POVs. Sometimes I felt like it was a traditional story and other times I felt like I went down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole and was in a stream of consciousness fever dream. There were definitely moments of "who is talking/what is happening" but overall have to give Kate Reed Petty credit for being experimental and keeping me on my toes. I was intrigued enough to keep reading to see what was going to happen next. The physical storytelling was unconventional at times, but once I surrendered to it I was good to go. Here is where I struggle. (view spoiler)[The book is about a alleged sexual assault that took place while Alice was passed out drunk in the back of a car. The two lacrosse players - Richard and Max - tell a story about how they assaulted her while she was passed out and once this story goes public they quickly deny it. Since Alice doesn't remember anything and there is no "proof" the charges are dismissed. Everyone comes to the boys' defense - they are star athletes after all. And Alice struggles with coping with what happened to her and is quickly painted as unstable and suffering from mental health issues. Sadly, this part doesn't shock me. My biggest struggle is that this altercation forever shapes Alice's life, destroyed her relationships, her self worth, her self confidence and haunts her until 15 years later she goes searching for the truth of what happened and finds out IT NEVER REALLY HAPPENED. It was all just a story these two idiot boys made up to look cool. I can't help but think how horribly this hurts anyone who was ever a victim of sexual assault. Who was intoxicated and cannot remember what happened to them. Who was the victim and was not believed. To use sexual assault as the subject of the rumor and then have it not even be true just feels really careless to me and hurtful. I was so angry at the end of the book as I really felt duped and mislead and my heart broke for Alice once again. Maybe that was the point, but $%&@! Find another subject for the rumor or don't make it be a fake story. Just feel like this undermined so many people's truths. (hide spoiler)] This book will not be for everyone - both in the physical style and the story itself. I was not satisfied with the ending which is always just a massive bummer.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Flynn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I gave True Story one star because 0 isn't an option (can you make that happen, GoodReads?). This was an absolutely infuriating book and a missed opportunity to delve into the nuances of an important topic. It's certainly true that rumors spread like wildfire and can have a profound impact on everyone involved. If Kate Petty wanted to explore the impact of inaccurate high school rumors, I would suggest choosing a different topic. Literally any topic other than sexual assault. Based on the pub da I gave True Story one star because 0 isn't an option (can you make that happen, GoodReads?). This was an absolutely infuriating book and a missed opportunity to delve into the nuances of an important topic. It's certainly true that rumors spread like wildfire and can have a profound impact on everyone involved. If Kate Petty wanted to explore the impact of inaccurate high school rumors, I would suggest choosing a different topic. Literally any topic other than sexual assault. Based on the pub date, I estimate this book was pitched and written at the height of "Me Too" finally going viral/mainstream and Petty chose sexual assault because it was the topic du jour & would translate to sales. Petty clearly has absolutely no knowledge about sexual abuse, victim blaming, bullying, and the impact it has on survivors, so she has no business writing a book on the topic. I was disgusted that the "big reveal" was that Alice wasn't actually assaulted because Richard came to her rescue. First of all, it struck me as unrealistic and out of character for him to stand up to Max, especially given his social status. It would have been much more realistic for him to have looked the other way, be haunted for not intervening, and attempt to make amends and redeem himself. Secondly and more importantly, I'm furious about the message it sends. Survivors are seldom believed and often blamed, especially if their attackers are popular athletes (i.e. Steubenville, Daisy Coleman, and countless other cases that never make the news because there are simply too many). In True Story the popular lacrosse guys brag about committing sexual assault and... it turns out they're lying about it? Give me a break. Guys lie about who they've slept with; I haven't heard of any scenarios in which they lie and brag about raping someone. It reminds me of Trump defenders (read: rape apologists) rushing to say "he was just joking!" when he bragged about sexually assaulting women. He wasn't; he's a predator who brags about his crimes because he knows he'll get away with it. Any book that gives fuel to that fire is irresponsible and incredibly hurtful to victims. As a survivor, this book pissed me off because it sent the message that sexual assault allegations are the result of "misunderstandings" and "blowing things out of proportion." This narrative is so pervasive and harmful to victims, and — whether she intended to or not — Kate Petty perpetuated it. I've worked in book publishing and drafts of books are read by many, many people in editorial, marketing, sales, etc and, even as an entry level employee, my feedback was requested and valued. I find it difficult to believe that during the entire process of writing, editing, and publishing this book, not a single person brought up the fact that the twist is insanely problematic. I guess they decided to forge ahead with it anyway, which is reckless and irresponsible. The only thing that could have made the book worse is if it turned out that Haley or Alice blatantly lied about the assault. So, uh, thanks for at least stopping short of that, Kate.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    A timely story about male privilege, he said/she said, misunderstandings and who controls the narrative. It frequently has a YA feel as the central events happen when characters are in high school and they don't really seem to age as they get older. Structurally, this follows a 'found footage' template with film scripts, college applications, and a postmodern sleight-of-hand at the end. All of which doesn't obscure the fact that the material has been done before, important as it is. Interesting A timely story about male privilege, he said/she said, misunderstandings and who controls the narrative. It frequently has a YA feel as the central events happen when characters are in high school and they don't really seem to age as they get older. Structurally, this follows a 'found footage' template with film scripts, college applications, and a postmodern sleight-of-hand at the end. All of which doesn't obscure the fact that the material has been done before, important as it is. Interesting and contemporary. ARC from NetGalley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Evie Braithwaite

    True Story is a cleverly written and timely novel about rumoured sexual assault, misunderstandings, and how it shapes the lives of those involved. ⁣ ⁣ It all begins when a couple of teenage boys drive Alice home from one of their ‘legendary’ parties as she lies blindly drunk in the back of their car. Afterwards, they brag to their friends about assaulting her, only to later claim that they made the whole thing up. ⁣ ⁣ Meanwhile, horror-story-aficionada Alice doesn’t remember a thing; which version o True Story is a cleverly written and timely novel about rumoured sexual assault, misunderstandings, and how it shapes the lives of those involved. ⁣ ⁣ It all begins when a couple of teenage boys drive Alice home from one of their ‘legendary’ parties as she lies blindly drunk in the back of their car. Afterwards, they brag to their friends about assaulting her, only to later claim that they made the whole thing up. ⁣ ⁣ Meanwhile, horror-story-aficionada Alice doesn’t remember a thing; which version of the story is true? Nevertheless, the events of that night haunt her. Structured through college application drafts, film scripts, emails, and interview transcripts, we follow Alice as the rumoured assault defines her sense of self for years to come. ⁣ ⁣ True Story also follows Nick Brothers, a friend and fellow lacrosse teammate of the two boys. Through his eyes, we witness the devastating effects of alcoholism, extant male privilege, and discover how his and Alice’s lives intertwine in interesting and unexpected ways. The tension is thick as we barrel toward the truth of what really happened that night. My only criticism is that, at times, it had a YA feel; the characters seem just as immature when they’re in their thirties as when they were naïve, gossiping high schoolers.⁣ ⁣ Like My Dark Vanessa, True Story explores how the ramifications of sexual assault can scar a person: how such an experience shapes Alice’s adulthood, following her like a shadow in the dark. True Story is about a chaotic situation told in a deceivingly chaotic way that will surprise yet delight you with how tidily it all resolves.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jess☺️

    True Story by Kate Reed Petty is a extremely different kind of book as it's basically a mixed genre kind of book, which I must admit I didn't get that Oh My God feeling once I finished,I felt there was something missing. It's written in many different types of writing from normal story telling to email form and to film script which is done very cleverly. The storyline is a very simple one of a romour, ownership which then takes life of its own and we watch how it grows and changes the characters l True Story by Kate Reed Petty is a extremely different kind of book as it's basically a mixed genre kind of book, which I must admit I didn't get that Oh My God feeling once I finished,I felt there was something missing. It's written in many different types of writing from normal story telling to email form and to film script which is done very cleverly. The storyline is a very simple one of a romour, ownership which then takes life of its own and we watch how it grows and changes the characters life throughout the book. I will definitely recommend this as some will like it more than others 📖

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Fetters

    "The world is scary. It’s not hard to imagine Pennywise from IT hiding under my bathroom sink." What caught my attention about this book first was the cover. And I know you’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover but I do it a lot. After reading the synopsis, I knew that this was a book that I needed to read immediately. We hear about similar situations too much in our times (I wish this wasn’t the case) but it’s true. People attend a party thrown by a popular sports team, drinks are throw "The world is scary. It’s not hard to imagine Pennywise from IT hiding under my bathroom sink." What caught my attention about this book first was the cover. And I know you’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover but I do it a lot. After reading the synopsis, I knew that this was a book that I needed to read immediately. We hear about similar situations too much in our times (I wish this wasn’t the case) but it’s true. People attend a party thrown by a popular sports team, drinks are thrown back like water, and then the most disgusting thing happens. Someone is sexually assaulted. Rumors start flying and a girl's life is put into the spotlight. They tear her life apart without even thinking about it. Then it becomes a game of he said- she said. This book follows the lives of four people; Nick, Richard, Alice, and Haley. It starts with their lives in High School and then leads to their lives as adults. When they were teens something awful happened and it was the Lacrosse team against the accuser. Alice accused two players of assaulting her after a rumor was spread by Richard and Max. That they did the unthinkable when she was passed out in the back of Richards car. That day changed all of their lives. It shaped them into how they turned out in the future. Now a certain situation brings them all back together as they piece together what actually happened that night. But all they know is that they are all haunted by that part of their past. This book was phenomenal. One of the best fiction debuts that I’ve ever read. The words kept me glued to every single page and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a timeless story that will speak to all of us. True Story was a spectacular read. It made you really think about how people are portrayed after something significant happens. We are so easy to judge without knowing the facts and it’s time to change that. This is a book that will always stay with me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    True Story was one of the most quietly absorbing and oft disturbing novels I’ve read in years – defying any attempt to classify it within genre, just when you grasp it, it changes direction and feel whilst always staying true to the story being told. One night something happens. What exactly that is soon gets lost in the mists of time, what True Story does is take you on a character driven, memory fuelled journey through the aftermath lives of those involved. Cause and effect run through the nar True Story was one of the most quietly absorbing and oft disturbing novels I’ve read in years – defying any attempt to classify it within genre, just when you grasp it, it changes direction and feel whilst always staying true to the story being told. One night something happens. What exactly that is soon gets lost in the mists of time, what True Story does is take you on a character driven, memory fuelled journey through the aftermath lives of those involved. Cause and effect run through the narrative as it unfolds..each section offering something to the reader, but any other attempt to explain it fails me so that will have to do. A literary page turner, True Story will grip you, horrify you, hit all the high and low spots of human emotion, never once follow the path of least resistance and in its final moments, once again defy expectations. Clever and intensely socially relevant, using literary mind tricks to explore an emotive subject, I doubt very much you’ll find another book like this anytime soon. Very highly recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    I actually need to pick up the book at the library before I review this one. I listened to the audio and I'm not entirely sure I understood the ending. Hold, please...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Fact or fiction? This genre-bending debut novel is difficult to pin down. Is it a cautionary tale about teenage drinking and hookups? Is it a book about bullying and peer pressure? Alcoholism? There were times, especially in the first section that I just wanted to stop reading. It was like watching a train wreck. And then part two is a total horror flick. Keep reading. It will all come together in the end. "Because storytelling doesn't belong only to perpetrators, and neither does having fun."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I received an advance reading copy of this. The proof had 4 possible covers, each of which I disliked, but I was intrigued by the concept of the novel not fitting into one genre. That being said, I'm not big into gimmicky things and was slightly put off by the decision to give the book 4 different covers - and after reading it, I feel that that decision did the book a disservice. The hype actually damaged the book in my opinion. I was completely underwhelmed. The story and concept were good enoug I received an advance reading copy of this. The proof had 4 possible covers, each of which I disliked, but I was intrigued by the concept of the novel not fitting into one genre. That being said, I'm not big into gimmicky things and was slightly put off by the decision to give the book 4 different covers - and after reading it, I feel that that decision did the book a disservice. The hype actually damaged the book in my opinion. I was completely underwhelmed. The story and concept were good enough, I suppose, but the novel was flawed throughout. There is a section where one of the characters is drafting an essay for a college application. I actually began to get irritated, reading through the many drafts and the variations of those. Repetitive is an understatement - it was completely unnecessary and in the end, tiresome and only served to make me annoyed with the character. If the author was trying to illustrate the mental state of the character writing these drafts, this could have been accomplished within 2 or 3 drafts. The typos within the application that were 'hand corrected' by the lecturer felt as if they were just thrown in to make it look plausible, but instead, just looked silly. And the lecturer's comments were... well... basic. At best. I didn't really empathise with any of the characters. Their development was limited and the individual sections of the book relating to each character appeared to be very disjointed and unrelated and at the end I suppose they tied in, but it felt very forced and the links were tenuous. I just found I was reading through pages upon pages of plays (that struck me as extremely juvenile) and numerous drafts of a college application (I didn't understand why so many of which were included). Disappointing. And, above all, I'm bemused as to why the special cover treatment was given to this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katie (readingwithkt)

    UPDATED: The more I have thought about this book, the more I realise how unhelpful it is to the #MeToo movement and, generally, to survivors of sexual assault. If you want to understand why I've come to that conclusion, I would recommend reading Chapter 5 'Case Study: The Boy in the Shower' in Malcolm Gladwell's non-fiction book 'Talking to Strangers', which discusses the link between sexual violence, trauma and memory. I've deleted my original review so I can share this review publicly. Please ta UPDATED: The more I have thought about this book, the more I realise how unhelpful it is to the #MeToo movement and, generally, to survivors of sexual assault. If you want to understand why I've come to that conclusion, I would recommend reading Chapter 5 'Case Study: The Boy in the Shower' in Malcolm Gladwell's non-fiction book 'Talking to Strangers', which discusses the link between sexual violence, trauma and memory. I've deleted my original review so I can share this review publicly. Please take careful note of these content warnings: serious sexual assault, blood, weaponry, alcoholism, drug-taking, self-injury, domestic violence (physical and psychological abuse, including gaslighting and coercive control), pet death, knife violence, self-starvation, poisoning humans and animals, murder, body mutilation, hallucination and stalking. The author handles none of these things in a helpful or sensitive way, so if these are issues that you find difficult to read about, I would recommend approaching this book with extreme caution. Honestly? I wish I'd never read this book and, 3 months after reading it, that feeling has only grown stronger. I hate that it even sits on my Goodreads shelf.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ola

    True Story is just amazing! I cannot believe what I just read. It's a genre-bending novel that gives me absolutely everything I need in a book. It has interesting characters, despair, horror, hope, love, feminism. It mixes all the subjects extraordinarily, surprises the reader with new ways to tell the story. The story starts with a group of teenage boys, privileged and self-assured lacrosse players that just want to party. One of their parties triggers a rumour mill on what actually happened at True Story is just amazing! I cannot believe what I just read. It's a genre-bending novel that gives me absolutely everything I need in a book. It has interesting characters, despair, horror, hope, love, feminism. It mixes all the subjects extraordinarily, surprises the reader with new ways to tell the story. The story starts with a group of teenage boys, privileged and self-assured lacrosse players that just want to party. One of their parties triggers a rumour mill on what actually happened at this party, what was done and who is telling the truth. We catch up with the group later in their lives, when they are struggling with a whole new set of difficulties, all still in a way haunted by the events following the party. I am amazed at the ease of the author to portray the male privilege of the events, how easily the story ended with a pat on the back and "boys will be boys". I could so clearly imagine those boys, and how they were justifying their actions. Later we get the horrifyingly good portrayal of alcoholism and abuse in a relationship. The story is perfectly developed and brings us closer to the characters. Even when there is not much action, the story is rich in characters thoughts and feelings. I was falling deep into the story and I couldn't stop reading. The ending highlights perfectly why we need to tell our stories, why we need to tell the true story. Brilliant read, highly recommend to everyone. It is a mix of literary genres put together with prose, essays and movie script that together creates an amazing, timely story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kaffeeklatsch and Books

    I had issues with this one. RTC

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I loved the first half. After that, things got convoluted and I don't know what the point of it all was. I won't go into plot details, but I could even see this having a pernicious effect on certain readers. Ick.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    5+ out of 5. Absolutely phenomenal debut. Using a mix of genres and POVs (not to mention some neat structural tricks), Kate Reed Petty delivers a riveting look at the ripple effects of a high school sexual assault and the ways in which rumor and storytelling can define our whole lives. I don't want to say too much because each twist and turn (not in a OMG-thriller! kind of way, rather... well, I never knew quite what to expect from one section to the next) is a delight to discover on one's own. 5+ out of 5. Absolutely phenomenal debut. Using a mix of genres and POVs (not to mention some neat structural tricks), Kate Reed Petty delivers a riveting look at the ripple effects of a high school sexual assault and the ways in which rumor and storytelling can define our whole lives. I don't want to say too much because each twist and turn (not in a OMG-thriller! kind of way, rather... well, I never knew quite what to expect from one section to the next) is a delight to discover on one's own. I'll be thinking about this one for a while and I have ~got~ to get my hands on that UK cover (which hints at the book's structure in ways I now fully appreciate).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mridula Gupta

    What goes around comes around. Nick and Alice, with a history that dates back to high school, are now adults with advanced psychological issues and a shit-load of trauma. As they narrate their story in a fever-dream like state, the unreliability of it all seems so obvious. This thriller is a layered one, with secrets and tragedies. It is based on themes of abuse and survival, broken friendships and memories that will haunt these characters forever. The writing, however, lags behind at places. So What goes around comes around. Nick and Alice, with a history that dates back to high school, are now adults with advanced psychological issues and a shit-load of trauma. As they narrate their story in a fever-dream like state, the unreliability of it all seems so obvious. This thriller is a layered one, with secrets and tragedies. It is based on themes of abuse and survival, broken friendships and memories that will haunt these characters forever. The writing, however, lags behind at places. So keep that in mind if you pick this up.

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