By Rita Nicholson
If there’s one truth about All of This is True, it is that not much was good about it. In Lygia Day Peñaflor’s novel, three friends meet a mysterious new boy at their private school. Miri, Penny and Soleil instantly take to Jonah and include him in their friend group, even though he is hiding a dark past. Jonah, Soleil, Penny and Miri attend a book signing by their favorite author, Fatimo Ro. The group soon becomes friends with Fatima Ro, an event that is too good to be true in their minds. It eventually turns out that it was literally too good to be true.
Fatima betrays the group by closely paralleling their personal lives in her novel. All of This is True discusses the aftermath of the novel. The general premise of the novel was very creative. Peñaflor truly thought outside the box for this book. The set up was unique as well; the story was told from journal entries, emails and interviews from various characters throughout the novel. Excerpts from Fatima’s new novel were also included. These various techniques cast a more humane light on the characters. It was very interesting to see how they reacted to the events that the novel was based around.
However, the excerpts themselves were not very good. It was extremely obvious that the author of the actual book, Peñaflor, was trying to write some semblance of a book in too little of a space. The writing was very blunt, as if the author was struggling to get the main points across before running out of time and space. The reader wasn’t allowed to make any of their own inferences, which took away from the emotional appeal of the novel inside the novel. A good and natural flow was completely lacking.
A lot of unnecessary information was included. Miri and Penny were being interviewed in the novel, and they talked about events that had happened a while ago. They would often unrealistically remember detail that had no value. They mentioned exactly what they had to eat too much for it to be believable. Additionally, multiple times throughout each interview, the interviewer would comment. Almost every single comment was needless; they could have been completely removed from the story and nothing would change.
The characters were also unbelievable and annoying. They were shallow and would describe themselves very trivially instead of providing details about the main event, which was Fatima Ro’s betrayal. Miri was extremely narcissistic. She always thought that her opinion was the only acceptable opinion and that everyone else was not as good as her. It didn’t take long for Miri to grow tiresome; she became irritating after only a few pages into the novel. The only positive thing to say about Miri is that she was a very well-written example of a narcissist.
In general, All of This is True was not a very good read. If the execution of the story was better, it would be an amazing novel. However, many aspects of All of This is True were frankly unnecessary and irritating. The bad outweighs the good when it comes to Peñaflor’s novel.