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 just couldn’t get into this book at all, and sadly it seemed like it was mysterious but with no hints for the first 150 pages and then as soon as the first hint dropped about the big mystery it was super obvious what had happened.
I think the format was supposed to help the story spin slowly and really, for me, all it did was drag it out. Though I liked that we got the POVs from all three girls. I also like that Soleil’s was written before and Miri and Penny’s were done in retrospect.
I also didn’t like that nothing seems to get resolved. There’s mention of backlash against Fatima, but nothing about what was happening outside of the girl’s view on it. Given at the start of most books there’s normally a “characters are fake; any reflection of real people is accidental” type disclaimer, I found the whole book concept a bit odd – as I bought her publisher would have had to get involved at least.
Fatima never really appealed to me, and her manipulations seems odd and obvious. And all three girls are shallow and spoiled. I just couldn’t connect with any of them.
I also couldn’t really get behind the “book within a book” concept – I’m talking about Undertow/ the Drowning here, not Absolution. I get that it’s sort of the point, but I though her writing it into Absolution was the height of self serving and petty. Ugh.
Sorry, I genuinely hope others enjoyed this more than me, but it wasn’t for me.
Buy All of the This is True from Amazon UK (affiliate link)