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All of This is True

Review

All of This is True

ALL OF THIS IS TRUE by Lygia Day Penaflor is an innovative story about four teens whose obsession with their favorite author leads to them befriending her, only to head down a path of betrayal with dark consequences.

At the start of the novel, four privileged high school students from Long Island --- Miri, Soleil, Penny and their mysterious new friend, Jonah --- attend a book signing of famous YA author, Fatima Roe, and they concoct a plan to try to get close to her. Their calculated strategy works and they begin to frequently spend time at the captivating author’s house and are invited to attend her parties. They are overcome with excitement that their favorite author appears to be so invested in getting to know them, even offering them a key to her apartment. As the friendship between the teens and author evolves, the teens become enraptured with Fatima’s thoughts about human interactions and entrust her when sharing information about their lives.

"The format of ALL OF THIS IS TRUE is exceptionally unique...Penaflor incorporates all...formats seamlessly.....As a result, the storyline is so riveting that you are hesitant to put the book down.... "

What they are not aware of, however, is Fatima’s dark nature and that her desire to have the four friends share their most intimate secrets stems from her plan to use it as material for the premise for her new novel. Upon publication of Fatima’s new novel, THE ABSOLUTION OF BRADY STEVENSON, the lives of the friends are uprooted as a devastating secret is revealed and they are tangled in a web of lies and betrayal. Their lives become shattered as painful truths are uncovered and the lines between fiction and reality blur.

The format of ALL OF THIS IS TRUE is exceptionally unique and weaves together a narrative from interviews, book passages, emails and journal entries. Penaflor incorporates all these formats seamlessly and the development of the characters is so complete that the reader is able to easily differentiate which of the girls is conveying information at any given moment. As a result, the storyline is so riveting that you are hesitant to put the book down and become entirely wrapped up in their world, thoroughly invested in the eventual outcome.

The book explores friendship, toxic relationships, obsession, betrayal and the need for boundaries. As the book unfolds, the reader’s perception of the various characters shifts and it becomes a psychological study of the various interactions, allowing the reader to interpret the actions of the teens and Fatima. For instance, was it unreasonable for Fatima to exploit the teens for her book's plotline, or was it a plausible consequence of the fangirls’ blind obsession of a celebrity?

This is Penaflor's second novel, following her successful 2016 debut, UNSCRIPTED JOSS BRYD. Like ALL OF THIS IS TRUE, JOSS BYRD explores the world of the famous and celebrity worship, which Penaflor is uniquely qualified to write about as she is not only an author but teaches child stars on television and movie sets. With her already being immersed in Hollywood, it would not be surprising to see ALL OF THIS IS TRUE on the big screen in the near future, as it would easily translate to a screenplay. I highly recommend this addictive novel about obsession and manipulation as it creates a real cautionary tale in today’s world about the ramifications about miscalculating who is worthy of trust. 

Reviewed by on June 14, 2018

All of This is True
by Lygia Day Peñaflor