ARC Review: All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor


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Title: All of This is True
Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 432 Pages
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018


Summary: 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...

I received an advanced copy of this book through TeenReads, and I'm really glad I did, because I was really excited to get my hands on this book ever since I found out that the story took place in an area I grew up in -- an area that isn't talked about much! That immediately drew me into the story (after texting my boyfriend and my other friends from home about it!), and I couldn't put the book down once I picked it up.

As the summary explains, a group of teens find themselves living in their wildest dream -- they've become best friends with a super-famous Young Adult author who wrote their favorite series. Before long, they start sharing secrets, getting closer, becoming the envy of their school...but things can't stay in paradise for long. Because Fatima Ro needs new material for a story. And it seems like she doesn't care who she hurts in the process -- exploiting the secrets that her new friends trusted her with. And when Jonah's secret is revealed in the book, something really, really terrible happens to him because of it.

What I really loved about this book was the way it was told. It definitely didn't follow the usual storytelling format! It reminded me a little bit of Illuminae, in a way. The book is told entirely through interview transcripts, pieces of Soleil's journals, and excerpts from Fatima's new book. So you learn the entire story -- what happened, what was said, and the aftermath of it all -- completely through these mediums. And sometimes reading books like this (such as Illuminae) can leave me with a lot of unanswered questions, because there is a lot that isn't always conveyed through transcripts. But this book did an excellent job of weaving a solid, captivating story -- when I finished reading, I didn't feel like anything was left out or like I was missing something!

Another thing that I really loved about this book was the references, which I mentioned a little earlier in this post! There were a lot of mentions to specific bookstores, areas, and cafes that I remembered from home, and the boarding school in the book even took some details from the boarding school that my boyfriend went to!! It was just really interesting (and exciting!) to see a book set in my hometown, since that's not something that really tends to happen. So it gave me a feeling of being an "insider," so to speak -- I caught all of the references and felt excited and familiar with the setting. I absolutely loved that part of the story, and that's part of the reason I'm officially pushing this book on all of my friends back home!

The story itself was seriously so good. It hooked me right away and kept me stuck to the pages until the very end -- for the first time since I've come to college, I managed to read 300 pages in a single day!! On top of classes and school work and other responsibilities! I seriously just could not put this book down. The book starts off by telling the reader what happened with Fatima and the group, so you know how it ends, but the book breaks it down and explains what really played out. Plus, all of the juicy details aren't really discussed in the beginning, so you do have to read all the way until the end to find out what's going to happen!

Character-wise, I really loved Penny and I really couldn't stand Miri. Miri seemed like the ringleader in a not-good way, and even throughout all of the terrible things that were happening, she didn't want to acknowledge the fact that Fatima was, in fact, freaking creepy and awful. She definitely was brainwashed in that regard. And as for Penny, my heart absolutely broke for her -- all she wanted was to feel special, important, and respected. It made me feel really bad when she would talk about how ignored and lonely she felt. Everyone in this book definitely should've treated you better, Penny!!! I'm on your side!!!

(Spoilers ahead, so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want this book ruined for you!) The only thing was that I was able to predict the ending from very early on in the book, which was just a tiny bit sad because I love being surprised. As soon as you start getting some details of what happened and Sunny finds out, I knew. I knew exactly where it was going, and maybe that was intentional, or maybe it wasn't. But yeah, I definitely predicted the ending. But there was still a heightened level of suspense, waiting to see how everything was going to play out! So I don't think that takes away from the story for me at all, really.

And as for where I stand on Fatima being guilty of exploiting these kids for their story? I absolutely believe she's guilty. I know not everyone may feel that way, but there's something really creepy and unsettling about an older author befriending these young kids with the intention of having them spill their deepest, darkest secrets, only to use them in her latest book. I really didn't like her for that -- I thought it was really shady and wrong. But what were your own thoughts about the book? Comment down below!

Overall, I absolutely loved All of This is True. This book is captivating, mysterious, thrilling, and every amazing adjective in between! I flew through this book quicker than I've read in the longest time because I just had to know what was going to happen next, and the way the book was formatted made it really easy to get through. And, like I said, I loved the references! And, in a weird way, this book inspired me to get writing in terms of my own current project again. I love books/TV shows that have writers as some of the main characters, because it really helps inspire me and get me in the mood to create!

But yes, yes. Back to the book. This incredible, 5-star book that I couldn't put down.

What are you waiting for?! This book absolutely needs to be on your TBR RIGHT. NOW. Scroll up and find that Goodreads button at the top of this post and add it!

Special thanks to TeenReads for supplying me with a copy of this ARC! There were no review expectations or anything; I was simply given a copy of the book just because my boss knew I was interested in it. And I'm so glad that I got the chance and could read this book early and tell all of you how amazing it is and how much you need it!! So what're you waiting for?

Hats off to Lygia -- I'll definitely be reading more of her books in the future! 





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