In all that is good and honest in this world, I genuinely went into this book blind. I have heard of Lygia’s debut novel Unscripted Joss Byrd, but being the topsy-turvy bookworm that I am is the reason why I haven’t read it yet. Now funny thing is that when this was teased, I was genuinely intrigued about the premise. All it said was, “Four YA-obsessed teens befriend their favorite novelist. What happens next will shock you.” My mind went all, “Are you messing with me?” Months later, I met up with a few bookish friends, discussing about books and all, with me struggling to relate because I was in a huge slump. And then I was asked by JM from Book Freak Revelations to join the tour and I was like, “YES! NOW I KNOW WHAT TO READ NEXT HUZZAH!”.
“… oh sweet niblets just what have I gotten myself into?” (Bianca, while reading the book and reminding herself to breathe)
Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Age Bracket: Young Adult
Date Published: 15th of May 2018
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. . . .
Where do I begin with this? To be honest, I only trusted the tagline of this book and I let it do its purpose. I didn’t even read the synopsis on Goodreads. How I put so much blind faith on every book I read is beyond me. But this book left me in a state of shock. If I’m the ultimate fangirl, the girls in this book are way, way beyond me. Is all of it true? Honestly, I don’t know either.
Before we begin, I would just like to say that this story is the hardest book that I have reviewed for the blog. While I knew for sure that I wouldn’t change my rating, I still had a hard time putting my feelings into a comprehensible review. It’s a bit hard to just say, “SWEET HOLY GUACAMOLE. HOW EVEN IS THIS BOOK? MY INNER CORE IS SHAKING.” But hey, I really tried. Let’s start with the plot and setting of our story. If you judge it base on the title, you are bound to think that something is obviously sketchy. The same thing happened to me. It kept me on my toes and it brought out the best questions in me. I mean what can beat meeting and befriending your favorite author, right? Turns out, readers are in for a ride that will keep them guessing, thinking, and wondering if all of it was true. The format really brought the best out of it; the book was written through a series of video transcriptions, book excerpts, and journal entries. In addition to that, we get the perspective of our three protagonists: Miri, Soleil, and Penny. But why did it leave me speechless and at a loss for words? Taking spoilers out of the way, it’s how reality was interwoven with fiction. There was a thin line that the girls had to deal with, and the twists were undeniably sharp.
Nonetheless, it was a character-driven story. The book centered on 5 major figures, though we only get to see the two of them through the goggles of our main protagonists. I like to describe them as the fanatic, the reformed, the outsider, the lost soul, and the enigma. While it was hard to distinguish Miri and Penny’s voices at first, they became two rounded characters given their point-of-view for the whole situation. I came to like Penny’s voice the best, Soleil comes second, and Miri the least. I resonated with Penny’s character the most, with the thoughts that she had deal with when hanging with her Undertow-obsessed friends. Meanwhile when it comes to Soleil, she develops as she reaches certain points in the story. While it might not be the best, it shows that she is more than what she seems on the outside. Last but not the least, despite liking her character less, I believe that Miri has a strong personality and I admire that about her. Then there’s the enigma and the lost soul: Fatima Ro and Jonah. Though without perspective, they were both intriguing characters. They remain a mystery and act like a chess player and a grand master. Who is which is for you to find out.
Ultimately, All of This is True delivers a contemporary mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It will leave you speechless and at a loss for words. The writing leaves you wanting for more, with its free flow and magnetic style. But all in all, you’ll have to read it to believe it. Sometimes if it’s too good to be true, there’s bound to be ridiculous catch. The question is: do you believe it’s all true?
(Know more about my rating system here.)
Lygia became a writer by writing letters to a friend she met on a cruise ship when she was 14. She is the author of Unscripted Joss Byrd (Macmillan) and All of This Is True, which will be published by HarperTeen US, Bloomsbury UK, and translated in six countries in summer 2018.
Lygia also teaches child stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order SVU, I Am Legend, and others. She lives with her husband on Long Island where she rides horses and watches reruns of everything.
Connect with Lygia:
Huge thanks to JM at Book Freak Revelations for hosting the blog tour for this book.
See the rest of the tour here:
Miel at Bookish and Awesome
Leslie at Bibliophilekid