Book review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Source: Daniel sent this to me because, again, he is the actual best.

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. . . .

Nobody derails my TBR quite like Daniel, so when he told me some things about this book and then actually mailed it to me so that I could read it, I set aside my whole plan for the week and maybe actually also pulled this book out at my desk a couple times. One of my co-workers saw me reading and said, “Wow, that book must be good.” I responded, “Not really, but I can’t put it down.” She gave me a look. Anyway, for reference, you can see Daniel’s review here. I think we ended up feeling pretty much the same about this one.

I had actually planned to write a nice, coherent review, but things don’t always work out the way I plan. So, instead, here are 50 thoughts I had while reading All of This Is True.

Click at your own risk, I’m spoiling the whole thing.
  1. How old is Fatima?
  2. “We saw her Undertow notes and her BCPs.” “BCPs?” “Birth control pills.” Okay, so even in Catholic school ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been a big deal.
  3. “The one drawback to the uniform was that Brady couldn’t wear his gray hoodie. He missed its warmth around his face and the comforting smell of his own scalp captured inside it.” Daniel sent me this page and the next and my response was “I am halfway tempted to read it just based on those two pages” because W O W, Brady missed the comforting smell of his own scalp
  4. “Brady didn’t know it yet, but being new, awkward, mysterious, and good-looking made him the least invisible guy at Morley Academy.” Brady didn’t know it yet, but being attractive makes people care about what you do.
  5. “Journal Entry: FATIMA RO’S BATHROOM” So creepy, holy shit.
  6. Still in Fatima’s bathroom: “Old tub with new shower curtain of NYC skyline in black and white (still smells plasticky)” Jesus Christ, she’s smelling things.
  7. “It was a ‘smiley face’ except it was sad.” ☹️
  9. “She was going to make Brady one of her characters, and she would love him like one.” This is too much.
  10. You’re 23, what are you doing befriending a bunch of high schoolers? It’s creepy.
  11. Penny is real mad about this mac & cheese!
  12. “Brady opened his laptop to visit Sunny’s Facebook page. Relationship status: single” OH OH NO, OH OH NO.
  13. “He could ask the DJ to play the Ed Sheeran song. He was thinking like a good boyfriend already.” SO ROMANTIC, I’M SWOONING
  14. Why is this book so weirdly fixated on topknots??
  15. “She’d been texting with Thora all morning, asking ‘Is this the worst idea or not? Am I ready for this? Is he? Should we kiss or not?'” oh let me ask my weird 23-year-old friend if I should kiss my own boyfriend today
  16. “Brady touched Sunny’s hair in a very comforting, normal-boyfriend-like gesture.” Definitely not a robot
  17. “I’ll tell you (hottt) deets about the castle later!” (hottt) deets
  18. “I want to do ‘other stuff’ and ‘this and that’ so bad right now. A lot of it.” This is so romantic, why has nobody ever said this to me 😭
  20. Yes, sure, the English teacher is very concerned about her hairstyle, not the fact that she’s a bestselling author.
  21. “I got this feeling like there was something going on between Fatima and Jonah.” Um… Fatima is 23 and Jonah is literally in high school
  22. [tightens topknot]
  23. “it’s never fair to withhold this kind of information from those with whom you’re engaging in physical intimacy or speaking to on an emotional level” I feel like it’s perfectly fair not to tell people things you don’t want to tell them but okay
  24. “Miri ran an entire student movement based on a theory Fatima Ro stole from The Bachelor.” omg, plot twist
  25. “He chapter eight-ed me” “He chapter ten-ed me”
  26. Wow, first he chapter eight-ed you and now he chapter ten-ed you…. things are getting serious
  27. “Never accept a date from a text. It sets the stage for the entire relationship.” Wow, my whole last ten years are explained
  28. “She popped into the bathroom, did her topknot, and put on red lipstick” Jesus Christ, again with the topknots….
  29. I’m sorry, did we literally have an entire page just now that was solely dedicated to topknots
  30. “Lying in Thora’s bed, with her T-shirt shoved under the covers and holding one of her condoms in his palm, Brady felt almost as if he were with both girls at the same time” yikes
  31. “‘Do you know how to put that thing on?’ Sunny asked. ‘I’ll figure the shit out of it,’ Brady said.” I’LL FIGURE THE SHIT OUT OF IT, BRADY SAID
  32. “‘Get ready,’ he said, ‘because I’m about to give you my precious truth.'” I DIED. I LITERALLY DIED. WHO THOUGHT THIS LINE WAS A GOOD IDEA, WHO ALLOWED THIS
  33. “A good boyfriend always thinks about things like dark roads and black ice and regret.” I asked my boyfriend if he ever thinks about dark roads and black ice and regret and he said no, I think I have to break up with him now
  34. “I wish I knew where ‘hashtag Fatima was.'” I wish I knew where hashtag Fatima was too. 😦
  36. “I’m used to falling asleep hearing your voice…” Sounds like a normal healthy relationship between a 23-year-old and a high school student to me.
  37. “For Brady – What is your precious truth?” Um, I think we already established that it’s his penis
  38. I don’t even know which of Brady’s annotations is the best —
    1. “Holy fuck. Is this porn?”
    2. “Better sex tips than Maxim mag”
    3. “‘Sexy times’ are no joke”
  39. “Some of the exists are, like, north-south, some are only north or only south. It was so confusing.” wow so first of all, there’s a typo in this book so yikes, but also, like, highways, they’re so confusing, how do exits work? what are signs? why is life so hard?
  40. “When they asked me who I was with I didn’t know what to say. I just said ‘Mike,’ cause usually there’s a Mike.” So, fun fact, I literally never had anybody in any class named Mike. Not in elementary, middle, or high school. Joke’s on you, Penny, your trick wouldn’t have worked at my school.
  41. “Are you talking about Nicholas Jonna?” PLOT TWIST
  42. “Once you’ve pulled a girl’s underwear down it’s hard to pretend it never happened.” Ok
  43. “So, to think of him calling himself the Master of Sexually Deviant Ceremonies or whatever the hell he called himself” THE MASTER OF SEXUALLY DEVIANT CEREMONIES, I OFFICIALLY CANNOT HANDLE THIS BOOK
  44. “I ruined Jonah’s life just to impress some author whose book I never even read. [sobs]” another PLOT TWIST
  45. “Jonah, I mean Nicholas — or whatever the hell his name is” NAMES ARE SO CONFUSING EVEN THOUGH THIS IS PAGE 376
  46. “She was sitting in front of her full-length mirror, cutting her hair with a pair of purple kindergarten scissors and reciting the steps to making the perfect topknot” WHAT
  47. “You want my class notes, Fatima?” a 23-year-old needs class notes from a high school student, ok
  48. “ABOUT SOLEIL: Reformed Fatima Ro fan, future psychologist
  49. “He’s an eggplant, Penny!” I literally laughed out loud
  50. I can’t believe that the book literally ends with everybody’s phone ringing and Penny crying NO! OH MY GOD! and we don’t even find out what happened

I think if I’d read this on my own, with my expectations being as high as they were when it was published, I probably would’ve given it one star. Reading it with much-lowered expectations and being able to laugh with somebody about every questionable thing that happens raised it to two stars. I can’t really recommend it unless you’re just looking for a good time. In that case, go for it and prepare to be entertained.

Have you read All of This Is True? Do you like epistolary novels? 
Let’s talk in the comments!

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18 thoughts on “Book review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

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