I was thrilled when I was asked if I wanted to be in this traveling ARC tour of All of This is True. Not only had I been hearing so much buzz about this book, but I loved the idea of one arc that would travel to tons of reviewers. Thank you so much to Buried in a Bookshelf for organizing (and please go follow if you love this idea).
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.
So I really enjoyed this book in such a geeky way. Don’t get me wrong. I really liked our main characters – we spent the most time with Penny and Miri, but what I truly enjoyed whole heartedly was the way it was written as well as this sort of self-reflexive line between fact and fiction.
So besides the story being interesting, one thing I kept coming back to is the role of the author and the reader. When does the baton or the hot potato pass off? A book is the author’s property (sort of) until it’s published, but when does it belong to the readers? At the same time, what are the appropriate lines between the author and its fans afterwards? In this day and age where we have Instagram stars in our classes and authors in our midst, what is the line between them anymore. I think we’ve seen that a lot recently, where members of either group transgress – toe the line – and so this thought kept bumping around in my head the whole way through.
Fact v. Fiction
The book intersperses these chapters of interviews with Miri and Penny, Soleil’s emails, and chapters of the book by Fatima. It makes for this lifelike quality of reading. And we get to see the unedited versions of the tapes – but that’s about as real as we can verify.
While we get to see the ‘unedited’ tapes, that’s about as real as it gets. Everything else is has this veil between us and the truth – the emails, the books, and even the interviews. We all know that when we are interviewed we try to make us sound good. Why would we ever be interviewed and be overly critical of ourselves? We want to be liked – and right. So even though these are ‘unedited’ the concept of the truth is undiscoverable to us. Even if we read this book a million times the truth is elusive. We can never really know what happened because there are all these lenses of distortion in the way. It’s like in those eye tests where the doctor puts the various lenses over your eyes and asks, ‘better before or after’ (or is this just mine??).
I loved this technique and even more so, playing with the line between fact and fiction. A big part of the book is the actual book – Fatima’s. When we are able to see ‘behind the scenes’ we are only offered a glimmer of what could happen – and how does it evolve into being fiction?? If you can’t tell, I was really into this way of writing – my geeky book nerd self.
Can you tell I was so into the way it was written? Check out All of This is True on Goodreads.