True Story
Tracing the fifteen-year fallout of a toxic high school rumor, a riveting, astonishingly original debut novel about the power of stories—and who gets to tell them2015. A gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, Alice Lovett makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she can't tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep."1999. Nick Brothers and his lacrosse teammates return for their senior year at their wealthy Maryland high school as the reigning state champions. They're on top of the world—until two of his friends drive a passed-out girl home from of the team's "legendary" parties, and a rumor about what happened in the backseat spreads through the town like wildfire.The boys deny the allegations, and, eventually, the town moves on. But not everyone can. Nick descends into alcoholism, and Alice builds a life in fits and starts, underestimating herself and placing her trust in the wrong people. When she finally gets the opportunity to confront the past she can't remember—but which has nevertheless shaped her life—will she take it?An inventive and breathtaking exploration of a woman finding her voice in the wake of trauma, True Story is part psychological thriller, part fever dream, and part timely comment on sexual assault, power, and the very nature of truth. Ingeniously constructed and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages, it marks the debut of a singular and daring new voice in fiction.

True Story Details

TitleTrue Story
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 4th, 2020
PublisherViking
ISBN-139781984877680
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction, Adult, Suspense, Realistic Fiction

True Story Review

  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    Wowza! We have a real genius author in literature town who made me truly gobsmacked, speechless! I’m sucker punched, paralyzed, sitting on the floor( because the author pulled out from under me) and raising my glass for true intelligence, creative, unique, extremely original writing style! Yes, my friends, this underrated, hidden gem earned my five gazillion you fooled me twice and shame on me stars! The story starts in high school, two popular lacrosse team members raped a private school girl w Wowza! We have a real genius author in literature town who made me truly gobsmacked, speechless! I’m sucker punched, paralyzed, sitting on the floor( because the author pulled out from under me) and raising my glass for true intelligence, creative, unique, extremely original writing style! Yes, my friends, this underrated, hidden gem earned my five gazillion you fooled me twice and shame on me stars! The story starts in high school, two popular lacrosse team members raped a private school girl who is drunk, passed out at the front seat of a car and after getting bullied for months, she committed suicide but she survived. At least that is the part of Alice’s story: she is the girl who has been mentally and psychically abused. Only one person stands for her: Haley: successful runner, skilled writer, golden girl of the school. The other narrator of the story was Nick, struggling to keep his scores high at lacrosse team, friend of two accused rapers ( Max and Richard), having long time crush on Hailey. Richard is his childhood friend dreaming of going to Naval Academy, mostly a decent guy, concentrating on his future. Nick choses him over Hailey who is advocating Alice’s rights and declares a war against them. He gives statement to the police, lying for Richard and the case closes. After 15 years later, the things didn’t work well for Alice who survived from a toxic and dangerously abusive relationship and now she wants to make documentary about the events about her assault which will open a lot of cans of worms, needing help of Hailey’s filmmaking and entrepreneurship skills. And 15 years later, things also don’t go smoothly for Nick either. He is alcoholic, suffering from hallucinations, broke, chased by past demons. Now he learns he has a daughter and he needs to find alimony money ASAP to be part of their lives. The documentary project brings out those so called friends together. Richard tries to shut the production and he needs Nick’s help. But Nick still has second thoughts if his friend has told him the whole truth. The story is told by two inaccurate narrators who are mostly drunk, sedated, suffering from psychological problems. We don’t know who’s lying or who is telling the whole truth! You gotta give your attention! And there are remarkable essay pages and most entertaining B horror screenplay examples which I enjoyed a lot. And the final twist was impeccably well developed and extremely clever! If you want to read something mind numbing, different, gripping with flawed and broken but still connectable characters, this addictive, unputdownable, dazzling novel will satisfy all your literature thirst! Don’t have second thoughts to add your humongous TBR and enjoy your reading!
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    as promised, a photographic update. it is also my birthday week, so i'm counting this as a present! tadaaa!!! because plague, book tours aren't happening, so kate reed petty did a postcard tour instead! there were options - i chose one from the cabin sequence for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book, and i love it!it reminds me of home but ALSO gives me chills, for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book. please do not laugh at how inexpertly i affixed mine into the book with my ( as promised, a photographic update. it is also my birthday week, so i'm counting this as a present! tadaaa!!! because plague, book tours aren't happening, so kate reed petty did a postcard tour instead! there were options - i chose one from the cabin sequence for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book, and i love it!it reminds me of home but ALSO gives me chills, for reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book. please do not laugh at how inexpertly i affixed mine into the book with my (included) photo corner stickers. hear that, literary culture?? I DO THINGS FOR YOU!! feel free to send one of your representatives to hire me to do more of those things.NOW AVAILABLE!!one of the last social events i attended before the pandemic shut nyfc down was an end-of-february cocktail party showcasing a bunch of PRH’s summer releases, and this book was one of them. the memory of the evening is, to me, marked by a bittersweet nostalgia for that carefree time when one could mingle unmasked amongst other booknerds, sipping fancy alcohols and chatting, getting home safely and uninfected.to segue with EXTREME GRACE into the actual book-review part, the character whose “true story” is at the center of this unclassifiable debut is a woman named alice who, as a teenager, also spent an evening drinking at a party before passing out in the backseat of the car driving her home, waking up the next day with no memory of the sexual assault the teenage, lacrosse-playing driver and his teammate-pal are bragging about committing upon her while she was unconscious. the novel takes place over the next fifteen-or-so years, but it is far from a straightforward narrative—it shifts repeatedly between various genres, formats, and POVs into something resembling a mash-up between Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Thirteen Reasons Why, a lifetime original movie, and some A24 film.the story of that night’s events and its aftermath comes out piecemeal in emails, transcriptions of audio interviews, successive drafts of annotated college admission essays, and screenplays; it crosses from realism over into horror and stylized noir; it mixes up fact and fiction and memory until the "true" part of the story is as muddled to the reader as it is to alice herself. the constant changeups make this an incredibly fast read, and one very hard to put down—it destabilizes the reader with what is essentially one hook after another, and before you ask—yes, virginia, there is a closure. at that pre-plague cocktail party, the author was discussing how early readers of this novel kept commenting to her about how “timely” it was; what with the me too movement, its subsequent trials and the slew of survivor memoirs and polemical feminist texts that were suddenly dominating the publishing industry. and then she revealed that she’d begun writing this in 2015, which is funny and ALSO depressing. another thing that is both funny and depressing is that here we are, and now this book is being released into a world transformed, where the subject matter is no less timely or relevant, but it has become somewhat o’ershadowed by…well.it's an inventive way to tell a story whose details are all-too-"ripped-from-the-headlines"-familiar: the victim blaming, the protective closing of ranks around the accused, the gaslighting, the gulf between truth and memory or truth and belief. for alice, the incident derails her life—not only what was done to her, but the slut-shaming, gossip, and rumors that followed, leading to the predictable fallout: a suicide attempt, an abusive relationship, and feelings of shame and low self-esteem hounding her as she grows into adulthood shaped by her damage. ironies abound here: alice becomes a professional ghostwriter—someone who can’t remember her own story helping other people tell theirs—who is being pressured by her documentarian friend haley into telling her story, which, for all the effects the traumatic incident has caused, is somehow not really “hers,” as she tries to explain to haley:You’ve always been the one who was brave—no, the one who was sure. You’ve always been so sure of the story you want me to tell, the story you’ve been asking me for since we were seventeen: The story about the things that happened while I was asleep. “It’s your story,” you would say. “If you don’t let it out, it will take over your life.” But the story is mine only as the victim owns the prosecution, or the whale the harpoon. Telling it has always been the privilege of the perpetrators, who have the actual facts, and of the bystanders—like you—who believe they know.it's a messy situation told in a deceptively messy way that'll surprise you with how tidily it resolves. i'd probably go on longer if megan abbott hadn't already reviewed this better than i ever could.i will confess that i am unreasonably angry at the UK cover for being so awesome: and soon, there will be a photographic update to this review. INTRIGUED???come to my blog!
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    The premise of True Story is simple and timely. In 1999, a couple of teen boys drive a passed-out drunk girl, Alice, home from a party. Afterwards, they brag to friends about assaulting her; later, they'll claim that story was made up. Alice herself can't remember that night, so she can never be sure which version of the story is true. It almost doesn't matter: her sense of self is defined by it anyway; it echoes down the years throughout her entire life. The book follows Alice for 17 years – or The premise of True Story is simple and timely. In 1999, a couple of teen boys drive a passed-out drunk girl, Alice, home from a party. Afterwards, they brag to friends about assaulting her; later, they'll claim that story was made up. Alice herself can't remember that night, so she can never be sure which version of the story is true. It almost doesn't matter: her sense of self is defined by it anyway; it echoes down the years throughout her entire life. The book follows Alice for 17 years – or it might be more accurate to say it follows the story. As well as chunks of straightforward narrative, it's related through various documents: drafts of Alice's college application essay, screenplay extracts, emails, interview transcripts.The story is partly told from the point of view of Nick, a friend of the boys. We follow Nick across the years too, and see what his life becomes; in one especially harrowing chapter, we experience the devastating effects of his alcoholism. Nick's life remains entwined with Alice's in many coincidental and unexpected ways.True Story reminded me of two other books published in 2020. The first, and most obvious, is Kate Elizabeth Russell's My Dark Vanessa, in which a woman reckons with the memory of the relationship she had with a middle-aged teacher when she was 15 years old. Both books explore the ramifications of sexual assault or abuse in one's teenage years, and how the central character's adulthood is shaped by these experiences. The second is Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands, which may seem an unlikely comparison – it's about an elderly woman trying to solve a murder. But both Moshfegh and Petty are doing similar things with their meta, circular narratives, examining what a story is and means as they tell it. And both books have titles that only reveal their cleverness once you've reached the end.Not for the first time, my main complaint about the book concerns the marketing rather than the story itself. The blurb leads with the claim that 'True Story is a novel like nothing you've ever read before'. That is quite a statement, and isn't really a good fit for what is actually fairly conventional, readable fiction. It doesn't play with or subvert genre as I was led to believe. I say this not to trash the book, which is very good, but to manage the expectations of anyone planning to read it. True Story is about the ways in which a story, rumour or belief can affect someone's life, regardless of what it is, and regardless of whether it's true. It also asks the reader to consider whether the nature of the telling affects what they believe. I admire the fearlessness of the author's approach: it's an interesting, involving, thought-provoking way to explore particularly knotty subject matter.I received an advance review copy of True Story from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Linktree
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    An impressive genre-blending debut, and one I think will be best enjoyed by going in pretty much blind. I devoured this in just a few hours, finding it near impossible to put down. The premise: it's the year 2000 and a teenage girl, Alice, is sexually assaulted by two young men after a party. The narrative then follows her - and a guy, Nick (who was at the party but not directly involved) in the immediate aftermath and then 8 years after the incident. The blurb describes it as "by turns a campus An impressive genre-blending debut, and one I think will be best enjoyed by going in pretty much blind. I devoured this in just a few hours, finding it near impossible to put down. The premise: it's the year 2000 and a teenage girl, Alice, is sexually assaulted by two young men after a party. The narrative then follows her - and a guy, Nick (who was at the party but not directly involved) in the immediate aftermath and then 8 years after the incident. The blurb describes it as "by turns a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir", which I'd say is pretty accurate - it's structured pretty ambitiously but Reed Petty definitely pulls it off.I enjoyed this enough that I was able to overlook a few flaws, but it's really a great read which I found both compelling and thought-provoking. Recommended! Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Books/riverrun for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    True Story is a genre-defying novel most appropriately described as literary crime and is also Kate Reed Petty’s gripping feminist debut, and I can't help but feel we will be hearing a lot more about her in the future. It follows Alice Lovett, a gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, who makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she cannot tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep." Back in 1999, Nick Brothers an True Story is a genre-defying novel most appropriately described as literary crime and is also Kate Reed Petty’s gripping feminist debut, and I can't help but feel we will be hearing a lot more about her in the future. It follows Alice Lovett, a gifted and reclusive ghostwriter, who makes a living helping other people tell their stories. But she is haunted by the one story she cannot tell: the story of, as she puts it, "the things that happened while I was asleep." Back in 1999, Nick Brothers and his high school lacrosse team return for their senior year in a well-to-do Baltimore suburb as the reigning state champs. The afterglow of their big win is bound to last until graduation; not even the pressure of college applications can get in the way of their fun. But when a private school girl attempts suicide in the wake of one of the team's "legendary" parties, and a rumour begins to circulate that two of Nick's teammates sexually assaulted her, it seems like it might ruin everything, until the team circles the wagons, casts doubt on the story, and the town moves on.But not everyone does. Fifteen years later, four people: Alice, Nick, a documentary filmmaker, and a wealthy entrepreneur — remain haunted by the roles they played, the things they still don't understand and how the story has shaped their lives. This is a compulsive and beautifully written book from the first page through to the last and at its heart is a meditation on the far-reaching consequences of a despicable crime on a small and tight-knit community. But the author doesn't stop there. She introduces the timely issues of toxic masculinity, male privilege, domestic abuse and a harrowing depiction of alcoholism to the narrative too, which only served to engross me in the story even more. It is very much a character-driven tale and gets deep into the heart of the matter of those impacted by revealing their most profound thoughts and feelings; it’s abundantly clear that a lot of detailed research went into their development. Highly recommended. Many thanks to riverrun for an ARC.
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  • Evie Braithwaite
    January 1, 1970
    True Story is a cleverly written and timely novel about rumoured sexual assault, misunderstandings, and how it shapes the lives of those involved. ⁣⁣It all begins when a couple of teenage boys drive Alice home from one of their ‘legendary’ parties as she lies blindly drunk in the back of their car. Afterwards, they brag to their friends about assaulting her, only to later claim that they made the whole thing up. ⁣⁣Meanwhile, horror-story-aficionada Alice doesn’t remember a thing; which version o True Story is a cleverly written and timely novel about rumoured sexual assault, misunderstandings, and how it shapes the lives of those involved. ⁣⁣It all begins when a couple of teenage boys drive Alice home from one of their ‘legendary’ parties as she lies blindly drunk in the back of their car. Afterwards, they brag to their friends about assaulting her, only to later claim that they made the whole thing up. ⁣⁣Meanwhile, horror-story-aficionada Alice doesn’t remember a thing; which version of the story is true? Nevertheless, the events of that night haunt her. Structured through college application drafts, film scripts, emails, and interview transcripts, we follow Alice as the rumoured assault defines her sense of self for years to come. ⁣⁣True Story also follows Nick Brothers, a friend and fellow lacrosse teammate of the two boys. Through his eyes, we witness the devastating effects of alcoholism, extant male privilege, and discover how his and Alice’s lives intertwine in interesting and unexpected ways. The tension is thick as we barrel toward the truth of what really happened that night. My only criticism is that, at times, it had a YA feel; the characters seem just as immature when they’re in their thirties as when they were naïve, gossiping high schoolers.⁣⁣Like My Dark Vanessa, True Story explores how the ramifications of sexual assault can scar a person: how such an experience shapes Alice’s adulthood, following her like a shadow in the dark. True Story is about a chaotic situation told in a deceivingly chaotic way that will surprise yet delight you with how tidily it all resolves.
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  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "The world is scary. It’s not hard to imagine Pennywise from IT hiding under my bathroom sink."What caught my attention about this book first was the cover. And I know you’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover but I do it a lot. After reading the synopsis, I knew that this was a book that I needed to read immediately. We hear about similar situations too much in our times (I wish this wasn’t the case) but it’s true. People attend a party thrown by a popular sports team, drinks are throw "The world is scary. It’s not hard to imagine Pennywise from IT hiding under my bathroom sink."What caught my attention about this book first was the cover. And I know you’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover but I do it a lot. After reading the synopsis, I knew that this was a book that I needed to read immediately. We hear about similar situations too much in our times (I wish this wasn’t the case) but it’s true. People attend a party thrown by a popular sports team, drinks are thrown back like water, and then the most disgusting thing happens. Someone is sexually assaulted. Rumors start flying and a girl's life is put into the spotlight. They tear her life apart without even thinking about it. Then it becomes a game of he said- she said. This book follows the lives of four people; Nick, Richard, Alice, and Haley. It starts with their lives in High School and then leads to their lives as adults. When they were teens something awful happened and it was the Lacrosse team against the accuser. Alice accused two players of assaulting her after a rumor was spread by Richard and Max. That they did the unthinkable when she was passed out in the back of Richards car. That day changed all of their lives. It shaped them into how they turned out in the future. Now a certain situation brings them all back together as they piece together what actually happened that night. But all they know is that they are all haunted by that part of their past. This book was phenomenal. One of the best fiction debuts that I’ve ever read. The words kept me glued to every single page and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a timeless story that will speak to all of us. True Story was a spectacular read. It made you really think about how people are portrayed after something significant happens. We are so easy to judge without knowing the facts and it’s time to change that. This is a book that will always stay with me.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    A timely story about male privilege, he said/she said, misunderstandings and who controls the narrative. It frequently has a YA feel as the central events happen when characters are in high school and they don't really seem to age as they get older. Structurally, this follows a 'found footage' template with film scripts, college applications, and a postmodern sleight-of-hand at the end. All of which doesn't obscure the fact that the material has been done before, important as it is. Interesting A timely story about male privilege, he said/she said, misunderstandings and who controls the narrative. It frequently has a YA feel as the central events happen when characters are in high school and they don't really seem to age as they get older. Structurally, this follows a 'found footage' template with film scripts, college applications, and a postmodern sleight-of-hand at the end. All of which doesn't obscure the fact that the material has been done before, important as it is. Interesting and contemporary.ARC from NetGalley
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  • Maximilian Birner
    January 1, 1970
    While I praise True Story for its uniqueness and its message, it really isn't the full package for me.My biggest complaint of True Story is how it doesn't feel like a complete story. While I enjoyed reading through the horror/thriller screenplays and draft essays, we really only got a STORY at the beginning and end of the book. It seemed like there was supposed to be a twist ending, but revealing new details about the plot at the last fifty pages really didn't do it for me.It was hard for me to While I praise True Story for its uniqueness and its message, it really isn't the full package for me.My biggest complaint of True Story is how it doesn't feel like a complete story. While I enjoyed reading through the horror/thriller screenplays and draft essays, we really only got a STORY at the beginning and end of the book. It seemed like there was supposed to be a twist ending, but revealing new details about the plot at the last fifty pages really didn't do it for me.It was hard for me to pick up this book, and it took a lot of revisiting because I'd always read through the screenplays really fast and have to slowly endure the normally written parts of the book. The genre-bending was okay, but it didn't "stand out" as much as I hoped. Definitely more of a slow-paced thriller with an underdeveloped plot.True Story gets an extra star due to a fifty-page segment somewhere around the middle of the book where one of the characters is drafting a college essay. It's funny, sad, interesting, and adds a lot more depth than any other segment of the book.
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    Fact or fiction? This genre-bending debut novel is difficult to pin down. Is it a cautionary tale about teenage drinking and hookups? Is it a book about bullying and peer pressure? Alcoholism? There were times, especially in the first section that I just wanted to stop reading. It was like watching a train wreck. And then part two is a total horror flick. Keep reading. It will all come together in the end."Because storytelling doesn't belong only to perpetrators, and neither does having fun."
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  • Kaffeeklatsch and Books
    January 1, 1970
    I had issues with this one.RTC
  • Ola
    January 1, 1970
    True Story is just amazing! I cannot believe what I just read. It's a genre-bending novel that gives me absolutely everything I need in a book. It has interesting characters, despair, horror, hope, love, feminism. It mixes all the subjects extraordinarily, surprises the reader with new ways to tell the story.The story starts with a group of teenage boys, privileged and self-assured lacrosse players that just want to party. One of their parties triggers a rumour mill on what actually happened at True Story is just amazing! I cannot believe what I just read. It's a genre-bending novel that gives me absolutely everything I need in a book. It has interesting characters, despair, horror, hope, love, feminism. It mixes all the subjects extraordinarily, surprises the reader with new ways to tell the story.The story starts with a group of teenage boys, privileged and self-assured lacrosse players that just want to party. One of their parties triggers a rumour mill on what actually happened at this party, what was done and who is telling the truth. We catch up with the group later in their lives, when they are struggling with a whole new set of difficulties, all still in a way haunted by the events following the party.I am amazed at the ease of the author to portray the male privilege of the events, how easily the story ended with a pat on the back and "boys will be boys". I could so clearly imagine those boys, and how they were justifying their actions. Later we get the horrifyingly good portrayal of alcoholism and abuse in a relationship. The story is perfectly developed and brings us closer to the characters. Even when there is not much action, the story is rich in characters thoughts and feelings. I was falling deep into the story and I couldn't stop reading. The ending highlights perfectly why we need to tell our stories, why we need to tell the true story.Brilliant read, highly recommend to everyone. It is a mix of literary genres put together with prose, essays and movie script that together creates an amazing, timely story.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    5+ out of 5. Absolutely phenomenal debut. Using a mix of genres and POVs (not to mention some neat structural tricks), Kate Reed Petty delivers a riveting look at the ripple effects of a high school sexual assault and the ways in which rumor and storytelling can define our whole lives. I don't want to say too much because each twist and turn (not in a OMG-thriller! kind of way, rather... well, I never knew quite what to expect from one section to the next) is a delight to discover on one's own. 5+ out of 5. Absolutely phenomenal debut. Using a mix of genres and POVs (not to mention some neat structural tricks), Kate Reed Petty delivers a riveting look at the ripple effects of a high school sexual assault and the ways in which rumor and storytelling can define our whole lives. I don't want to say too much because each twist and turn (not in a OMG-thriller! kind of way, rather... well, I never knew quite what to expect from one section to the next) is a delight to discover on one's own. I'll be thinking about this one for a while and I have ~got~ to get my hands on that UK cover (which hints at the book's structure in ways I now fully appreciate).
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    Proof gimmicks always make me nervous – this one has four covers. What are they compensating for? Remember all that holographic foil on the Cat Person proof! I loved parts of this and I didn’t love other parts. That’s the risk you run when you write a novel in different styles and forms and from different perspectives. Does it work as a whole? Does it become more than the sum of its parts? Sadly not.
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  • Rose Cox
    January 1, 1970
    I would give this book 10 stars if I could. Perfect in every way:-Self Aware-Engaging-Evocative-Complex
  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance reading copy of this. The proof had 4 possible covers, each of which I disliked, but I was intrigued by the concept of the novel not fitting into one genre. That being said, I'm not big into gimmicky things and was slightly put off by the decision to give the book 4 different covers - and after reading it, I feel that that decision did the book a disservice. The hype actually damaged the book in my opinion. I was completely underwhelmed.The story and concept were good enoug I received an advance reading copy of this. The proof had 4 possible covers, each of which I disliked, but I was intrigued by the concept of the novel not fitting into one genre. That being said, I'm not big into gimmicky things and was slightly put off by the decision to give the book 4 different covers - and after reading it, I feel that that decision did the book a disservice. The hype actually damaged the book in my opinion. I was completely underwhelmed.The story and concept were good enough, I suppose, but the novel was flawed throughout. There is a section where one of the characters is drafting an essay for a college application. I actually began to get irritated, reading through the many drafts and the variations of those. Repetitive is an understatement - it was completely unnecessary and in the end, tiresome and only served to make me annoyed with the character. If the author was trying to illustrate the mental state of the character writing these drafts, this could have been accomplished within 2 or 3 drafts. The typos within the application that were 'hand corrected' by the lecturer felt as if they were just thrown in to make it look plausible, but instead, just looked silly. And the lecturer's comments were... well... basic. At best. I didn't really empathise with any of the characters. Their development was limited and the individual sections of the book relating to each character appeared to be very disjointed and unrelated and at the end I suppose they tied in, but it felt very forced and the links were tenuous. I just found I was reading through pages upon pages of plays (that struck me as extremely juvenile) and numerous drafts of a college application (I didn't understand why so many of which were included). Disappointing. And, above all, I'm bemused as to why the special cover treatment was given to this book.
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  • Katie (readingwithkt)
    January 1, 1970
    UPDATED: The more I have thought about this book, the more I realise how unhelpful it is to the #MeToo movement and, generally, to survivors of sexual assault. If you want to understand why I've come to that conclusion, I would recommend reading Chapter 5 'Case Study: The Boy in the Shower' in Malcolm Gladwell's non-fiction book 'Talking to Strangers', which discusses the link between sexual violence, trauma and memory.I've deleted my original review so I can share this review publicly.Please ta UPDATED: The more I have thought about this book, the more I realise how unhelpful it is to the #MeToo movement and, generally, to survivors of sexual assault. If you want to understand why I've come to that conclusion, I would recommend reading Chapter 5 'Case Study: The Boy in the Shower' in Malcolm Gladwell's non-fiction book 'Talking to Strangers', which discusses the link between sexual violence, trauma and memory.I've deleted my original review so I can share this review publicly.Please take careful note of these content warnings: serious sexual assault, blood, weaponry, alcoholism, drug-taking, self-injury, domestic violence (physical and psychological abuse, including gaslighting and coercive control), pet death, knife violence, self-starvation, poisoning humans and animals, murder, body mutilation, hallucination and stalking.The author handles none of these things in a helpful or sensitive way, so if these are issues that you find difficult to read about, I would recommend approaching this book with extreme caution.Honestly? I wish I'd never read this book and, 3 months after reading it, that feeling has only grown stronger. I hate that it even sits on my Goodreads shelf.
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  • Jessica Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    An inventive and provocative novel about a rumored sexual assault that occurs at a high school party and the long-term impact it has on four people haunted by the roles they played. It’s genre mashup of a mystery, horror, campus novel and noir, including various view points and narrative forms. It’s a timely and nuanced look at the often complex nature of truth and the stories we tell that come to define us. And about reclaiming our own narratives to reach a point of personal liberation and poss An inventive and provocative novel about a rumored sexual assault that occurs at a high school party and the long-term impact it has on four people haunted by the roles they played. It’s genre mashup of a mystery, horror, campus novel and noir, including various view points and narrative forms. It’s a timely and nuanced look at the often complex nature of truth and the stories we tell that come to define us. And about reclaiming our own narratives to reach a point of personal liberation and possibly even forgiveness. Really smart debut here. Almost like a more accessible version of Trust Exercise.
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  • Jodie Matthews
    January 1, 1970
    True Story. Who does a story belong to? Who gets to tell a story? True Story is a genre defying novel, told in retrospect by the narrator - a woman who, as a teenager, was the victim of a sexual assault ‘scandal’ in an American town. Through old screenplays, drafts and rewrites, mixed media and first and second person narration, the narrator explores the ripple effect of a sexual assault. She asks questions about the ownership of trauma - if you can’t remember an event, is the trauma less or mor True Story. Who does a story belong to? Who gets to tell a story? True Story is a genre defying novel, told in retrospect by the narrator - a woman who, as a teenager, was the victim of a sexual assault ‘scandal’ in an American town. Through old screenplays, drafts and rewrites, mixed media and first and second person narration, the narrator explores the ripple effect of a sexual assault. She asks questions about the ownership of trauma - if you can’t remember an event, is the trauma less or more? If you misremember a detail, where does the sympathy lie?After finishing this novel, I’ve had a few conversations with people who didn’t enjoy it - who thought some of the messages in the book were damaging. I totally respect different takeaways from this subject matter, but I think Kate Reed Petty has written a nuanced exploration of trauma and sexual assault. The story starts as one thing before folding in on itself over and over, until the end result is unrecognisable. I think True Story validates, not discredits. I read this book with my own perception of the ‘truth’ in the novel, and as such, I think it is artfully done. If you read this book and believe in a different truth, you may feel angry or cheated - but I think this is Reed Petty challenging what the readers believe. Survivors of assault and abuse do not just have one linear story. The way they deal with their trauma will not always be inspirational. And the perpetrators of these attacks and abuses are not bogeymen. Often they are normal men - men that people think of as good or kind. Athletes and teachers and philanthropists, boyfriends and brothers, close friends. Sometimes they are men who drive you home and give you their coat to keep you warm. Men who will show such kindness to others, that everyone, even the victim, will struggle to believe they could commit such a crime. True Story prescribes nothing. The event, the ending, the narration; all of it up for debate, viewed through an emotional lens that will divide opinion. And is that not how it happens it real life? Do people not struggle to believe or accept or admit to themselves? Whether they are a bystander, the perpetrator or the victim.
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  • ThatBookGal
    January 1, 1970
    This is without a shadow of a doubt a very cleverly written book, but the chopping and changing styles was something I struggled with a little bit. This did add to the overall suspense and made you super uneasy whilst reading, as you never truly knew what was coming in the next part of the book. It certainly isn't like anything I've read before! The story centres around two protagonists. Alice, a young girl who got blindly drunk at a party and can't remember what happened in the back of a car, d This is without a shadow of a doubt a very cleverly written book, but the chopping and changing styles was something I struggled with a little bit. This did add to the overall suspense and made you super uneasy whilst reading, as you never truly knew what was coming in the next part of the book. It certainly isn't like anything I've read before! The story centres around two protagonists. Alice, a young girl who got blindly drunk at a party and can't remember what happened in the back of a car, devastated by the possibility of having been assaulted. Nick, a young guy who is on the sidelines of what happened, and struggles to cope with the fact. Both characters narratives were equally thought provoking, Alice's barely told through her own voice, Nick's giving a fresh take on a kind of 'survivor's guilt'. The story chops backs and forth between them and takes a look at the years afterwards, juxtaposing the kind of horror everyone can understand, with the horror of what happened in the back of the car. As I mentioned at the start of the review, it was all very clever and the kind of book that you can really sit and discuss for hours. Different people will take many different things from the passages, as there is a lot to unpick here. Personally the way that the different styles intersected made me force myself not to skim read, but that is a personal preference and I just know so many people will love this book. It was a 3.5 star read for me.
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  • Nicola Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I actually don't know where to begin with this review. True Story is a much hyped new release and I can understand why as it's high concept fiction offering a mixture of genres. I'm not entirely sure I really 'got' it though.It's billed as a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir, hence the four different covers, and the story is told in different ways: conventional narrative, film script, college application and emails. I found it all very easy to read and I raced thr I actually don't know where to begin with this review. True Story is a much hyped new release and I can understand why as it's high concept fiction offering a mixture of genres. I'm not entirely sure I really 'got' it though.It's billed as a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir, hence the four different covers, and the story is told in different ways: conventional narrative, film script, college application and emails. I found it all very easy to read and I raced through it, although I have to say I preferred the conventional storytelling device out of all of them.The story is about a sexual assault on a private school girl after a college party in 1999 America. The girl, Alice, was never sure exactly what had been done to her by the boys who took her home that night, and it had a huge effect on her life over the years that followed, as you might expect. The other major character is Nick, not one of the boys in the car, but an onlooker, complicit by being part of the gang of lacrosse players, reluctantly backing up his friends.It's all very cleverly tied together in a way that isn't always obvious. I think this is a book I will remember and think about as there are parts that really worked for me, and it's such a thought-provoking story of a girl being taken advantage of and the power of rumours. However, there were also sections that didn't quite work for me where I couldn't quite figure out what part they played. I think it's the quality of the writing that got me through, rather than the unconventional structure.There's a strong message in there about the power of the truth though. Whose truth? Is your truth really the truth? I didn't love it but I didn't hate it. Nonplussed is the word. True Story.
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  • Bella
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my goodness, I LOVED this. Well-written and twisty and everything I could ask for. My mind is spinning over those last few chapters.I was reminded of the amazing one-woman show Oh Yes, Oh No by Louise Orwin (!), for however they differ in tone, these pieces share genre-defying thoughtful commentary on rape culture and trauma. Highly recommend.(Content warning, if you decide to pick it up, for rape/sexual assault, domestic abuse, animal abuse, murder, self-injury, and alcoholism.)
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  • Contrary Reader
    January 1, 1970
    I haven’t read a story I’ve read an exorcism.Take a clever premise- a construct like what what is truth. Hypothesise the shit out of it. Refract it like a shimmering prism. Then plot like you have been taking lessons from Daphne Du Maurier. And that final drop- when the story comes together on the last page. That.Bloody brilliant
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  • A Million Books
    January 1, 1970
    Holy shit this was good.
  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    They say not to judge a book by its cover, but it was True Story’s multi-cover, multi-genre premise that drew me in. By turns YA, horror, noir, and memoir, Kate Reed Petty’s debut novel is compulsively readable. I finished within 24-hours, and was up until 1am fighting sleep with it.The crux of the story turns on one drunken night, when two high-school boys drive a private-school girl home after a party. Alice has no memory of what happened in the back-seat of the car, but the rumour-mill turns They say not to judge a book by its cover, but it was True Story’s multi-cover, multi-genre premise that drew me in. By turns YA, horror, noir, and memoir, Kate Reed Petty’s debut novel is compulsively readable. I finished within 24-hours, and was up until 1am fighting sleep with it.The crux of the story turns on one drunken night, when two high-school boys drive a private-school girl home after a party. Alice has no memory of what happened in the back-seat of the car, but the rumour-mill turns and repercussions ripple across her adult life.The two narrators of the story are Alice and Nick, a friend of the boys involved. Nick’s sections dive deep into his psyche – a segment in which he spends an inebriated weekend at a cabin, convincing himself he’s on the path to redemption even as his alcoholism drags him ever further down left perhaps the biggest impact on me. In comparison, until the end of the story the reader is always one-degree removed from Alice. We read her college application essays, her emails to a friend, but we don’t get inside her head. Alice’s lack of voice and inability to tell her own story is really the central theme of the novel, and it’s a strong one.Early reviews seem divided over whether the genre-bending aspect of True Story is a gimmick, but clearly it worked on me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and would both recommend it to others, and read more by Petty in future.Favourite quotes:“This scene [from Se7en], to me, is the answer to life: When everything seems like too much, go to the library. The best way to confront horror is through study.”“storytelling doesn’t belong only to perpetrators, and neither does having fun.”Many thanks to riverrun for providing a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Vlorini
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Wendy Pearl Karanfilian and Viking for allowing me to read the galley. A puzzle of a book I will not soon forget. Looking forward to meeting the author later this month.
  • Mary McBride
    January 1, 1970
    What a twisted tale of an incident and the many versions that are passed as truth. Who do you believe and how will it all make sense???You won't know until the very last page...
  • miss.mesmerized mesmerized
    January 1, 1970
    Nick, Max and Richard are the members of the promising lacrosse team of their college. Apart from doing sports, partying is what they like most, getting drunk and making out with girls. After one especially wild party, rumours spread, but the versions of what happened vary. Richard and Max claim their innocence while Alice cannot really remember, but she is sure that her best friend Haley tells the truth when she asserts that immediately after the deed, the boys boasted about what they had done Nick, Max and Richard are the members of the promising lacrosse team of their college. Apart from doing sports, partying is what they like most, getting drunk and making out with girls. After one especially wild party, rumours spread, but the versions of what happened vary. Richard and Max claim their innocence while Alice cannot really remember, but she is sure that her best friend Haley tells the truth when she asserts that immediately after the deed, the boys boasted about what they had done to her. Years go by, Richard turns into a rich businessman, also Haley made a career in the film industry. Things didn’t turn out that well for the others, Nick is closer to death by drinking or simply being stupid and Alice struggles forever with psychological problems stemming from the assumed assault. It will take years until the four of them confront again and the truth about what happened comes to the light.One thing is absolutely sure: this novel was different from what I have read before. Normally, it is quite easy to put a plot into a genre or at the maximum having two combined, but here, it is a genre mix in which you never know where it will lead you and what the end might be. There is quite some suspense since the whole plot is moving towards the final confrontation – even though this is not really obvious for quite some time – but it is also really tragic when Alice’s part is told. It did not have that much sympathy for Nick admittedly, a character I more or less despised from the beginning. You make assumptions about what happened but you have to correct them repeatedly, which I liked a lot since this cleverly shows you based how a limited point of view one’s verdict quite often is.There are several novels, apart from all the psychological books, which give some insight in how much impact an assault can have on a victim’s life. Here, too, Alice is completely thrown off the track after that night, the lively and joyful girl turns into a nervous and easy to exploit, unsecure young woman. Richard, on the other hand, seems unaffected by the accusations, he goes to Princeton and makes a career to become the hottest bachelor of the country. Nick is not immediately affected, he is a friend confronted with the question if he should or could believe the boys’, whom he has known forever, version. Yet, he is an example of someone who was gifted and had a promising future but threw it all away with being lazy and preferring partying over working hard for his success. In the end, you might even see him as a tragic character, but I wouldn’t say so, he had his chances but didn’t take them.A novel I simply rushed through as I couldn’t put it down anymore once I had started. Quite an interesting approach and a very cleverly crafted plot made it a great read.
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  • Martin
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great and thrilling novel that was both hard to read and impossible to stop. To be clear, it was hard to read because it was extremely scary and tense and creepy and because I am a huge wimpy coward who avoids all of those feelings with all my skill and guile every single day of my life. I have achieved middle age (I think? I guess?) without having ever watched more than maybe 1 or 2 straight-up horror movies (and one of those was The Shining because it's a cinematic masterpiece, etc e This is a great and thrilling novel that was both hard to read and impossible to stop. To be clear, it was hard to read because it was extremely scary and tense and creepy and because I am a huge wimpy coward who avoids all of those feelings with all my skill and guile every single day of my life. I have achieved middle age (I think? I guess?) without having ever watched more than maybe 1 or 2 straight-up horror movies (and one of those was The Shining because it's a cinematic masterpiece, etc etc); I am a sucker for "unwind" or "chill" playlists on any music streaming services; I have never once read a book by Stephen King, even the OK ones that cross-over like 11/24/64 (or whatever it's called). What I'm saying is that I am a scrupulous avoider of anything and everything scary and have been my entire time on Planet Earth.So, friends, it was a genuine heart-palpitating shock to crack this book -- billed as an au courant thrilling literary hall of mirrors -- to find out that Serious Chunks of this book are scary as shit. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.I got through it by rearranging my reading times to avoid the typical right-before-bed slot, and by pretending that I am a man, brave, tough, strong, etc.And, truth be told, it was worth it in the end! I was scared during the scary parts -- but survived! I was absolutely sluiced along the plot -- desperate to find what was coming next! I was properly dizzied by the tone, time and tempo shifts -- in a satisfying and thoughtful way!In fact my only real complaint, for those of you who have also read the book, was that the "screenplay" sections written by the little girls were, on their own, tedious to read, mostly because they were a little too true to life as if written by little kids. That is to say, they were juvenile, even as I recognize and acknowledge that they did plenty of thematic work. Meh, they were still kind of lame to read. Fortunately, these sections covered only about .1% of the pages of the book, total. That's it, that's my only criticism! For those of you, like me, who would never willingly or knowingly read something scary, let me just say that this book also had compelling characters, crazy twists and turns, and extremely grounded, meaty, human moments that explore thorny real-life issues of power, gender, truth, stories, and social pressure -- all in the midst of some serious razzley dazzley writing. This was like no book I've ever read -- not just because of its wild, book-length genre pastiche but also because it was really really scary. Good news: it was also great. True story.
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  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    January 1, 1970
    In 1999, seventeen year old Alice accepts a lift home from a party. Drunk, she passes out, and is horrified when the next morning she hears the two lacrosse players have been bragging about sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious. Though the boys quickly retract their boasts when confronted by the police, the claim continues to haunt Alice, who has no memory of the night and therefore never knows which story is true.Though the premise of True Story is reasonably straightforward, it’s e In 1999, seventeen year old Alice accepts a lift home from a party. Drunk, she passes out, and is horrified when the next morning she hears the two lacrosse players have been bragging about sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious. Though the boys quickly retract their boasts when confronted by the police, the claim continues to haunt Alice, who has no memory of the night and therefore never knows which story is true.Though the premise of True Story is reasonably straightforward, it’s execution is unconventional. Described as genre-defying, which is reflected in the novel’s unusual cover, the story covers a period of about fifteen years. The narrative shifts between two perspectives, that of Alice, and a friend of the two boys, Nick, and utilises various formats to examine the direct and indirect aftermath of that night.“I wrote it my own way. I made it a thriller, a horror, a memoir, a noir. I used my college essays, emails, and other found documents to ground the story in the truth—they’re the closest thing I have to “evidence,” proof that my memories, however few, are real.... We’ll have to call it fiction, of course (we both know the danger in presenting a woman’s story as truth). But I’m trusting you to see this is true. And even if you don’t believe—even if nobody believes me again—I will know this is true, because I made it; because it’s mine.”At its core I think True Story explores the complex intersection of truth and belief, with Petty suggesting that the concepts are more fragile and interchangeable than we like to acknowledge. For Alice the truth of what happened that night is unknowable, she can’t trust the word of the boys involved, and while Nick is convinced that nothing happened, Alice’s cousin, Haley, is equally sure something did. “It’s your story,” you would say. “If you don’t let it out, it will take over your life.” But the story is mine only as the victim owns the prosecution, or the whale the harpoon. Telling it has always been the privilege of the perpetrators, who have the actual facts, and of the bystanders—like you—who believe they know.”Without the truth, Alice lacks control of the narrative, and this leaves her struggling to trust herself, leading to her becoming ensnared in an abusive relationship. This contrasts sharply with Nick’s capability for self-deception, he never doubts that what he believes to be true, is. I appreciated, rather than enjoyed, True Story. I did find it provocative and interesting but I think it has more literary than genre appeal, and I prefer the latter.
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