Review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

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, FatimaAll of This is True Cover 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 in All of This Is True 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. . . . (via Goodreads)

I received an ARC of All of This Is True from author Lygia Day Peñaflor as part of an ARC tour in exchange for an honest review.

When I first heard about this book, I was incredibly intrigued. I put All of This Is True on my list of most anticipated books for the first half of 2018. I reached out to the publisher for an ARC, and was denied. When I had the opportunity to become part of the ARC tour, I couldn’t pass up the chance. By the time I read this book, the story felt uncomfortably familiar. It took me exactly two pages to figure out why it felt familiar.

For those of you who read queer romance, you will know the name Santino Hassell. If you aren’t, or aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out the #SHConfessions tag on twitter, and be prepared for your heart to break. Noah’s submission in particular broke my heart. The things we read in the confessions is the kind of stuff we see happening in All of This Is True.

All of This Is True desperately needs some content warnings for: hazing, mentions of sexual assault, mentions of sexual harassment, gaslighting, manipulation, unhealthy friendships, victim blaming, and a whole lot else.

The unusual format of All of This Is True was one of its strengths. The mixed media format felt like a true crime documentary, or someone working their way through a news story. It’s laid out with different formats: longform interview transcripts, emails, book excerpts and texts. All of it pulls together to be a mind-boggling page-turner of a novel.

The characters felt incredibly real. As spoiled teenagers who could charge a $50 cover charge for a party, they were incredibly naive about the realities of life. There is an ethical discussion to be had on the part of authors about power and responsibilities when it comes to our readers and friends.

I’ve never read anything like All of This Is True. I don’t know that I would choose to read this again, having seen people experience this in real time on social media. I work as a reporter who regularly has to cover crime stories that cause me enough heartache. I would definitely pick up another book by author Lygia Day Peñaflor, though.

At the end of all this, I recommend All of This Is True to anyone interested. Please read the trigger warnings, though. If that’s you, check it out on Amazon and Indiebound.

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money.

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