Friday, July 09, 2021

Teen/YA Review: All of This Is True

Searching my huge backlog for a Big Book audio last month, I was looking for something lighter and fast-paced, so I chose All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor, a YA suspense novel. It was a great choice! I really enjoyed this unique and compelling novel.


A group of teens at a private school on Long Island are obsessed with the author Fatima Ro and her first book, Undertow. They go totally fan-girl (and -boy) when they get to meet the author (who is in her early 20's) at a local book signing. She asks them to a coffee shop afterward, and they soon find themselves actually becoming friends with the author—a dream come true! Miri is the group leader and definitely the head of this fan club. In fact, she starts a clandestine club at school to bring more kids into the fold of living by Fatima’s “share your precious truths” credo. Soleil wants to be a writer, so she is especially enamored of Fatima and her “adult” lifestyle as a successful writer. Penny is seen as the party girl airhead by her classmates, but she feels like Fatima sees the real her. And Jonah is a new transfer student who loves Undertow as much as the girls do but is hiding a dark secret. The group is living their dream, until … Fatima publishes a new novel, which is clearly based on the lives (barely concealed) of her new "friends." Their names are barely changed, details of their private lives and conversations are spilled, and Jonah’s secret is made public. The media is saying she used these teens, but some of them still believe she is really their friend and had their best interests at heart. This whole story is told after the fact--after the novel is published and some sort of event lands Jonah in the hospital--through interviews, journal entries, e-mails and texts, and even excerpts from the fictional novel itself.


All of This Is True features a unique and compelling plot that feels like it could really happen in our current world of celebrity authors and teen fandom. But the way the story is told is what really makes this novel special. I loved the approach of looking back on what happened through different sources and slowly piecing the story together. The audio is also outstanding, recorded with a full cast of 15 narrators (listen to a sample below to see what I mean). The combination of “primary sources” and the real-sounding audio made the listening experience completely immersive. I actually figured out the book’s big twist very early on, but that didn’t matter because the story was just so well told. I was engrossed in the story from beginning to end.


432 pages, Harper Teen


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, featuring a full-cast audio production, and/or download it from Audible. The sample is from the beginning of the book, as Miri describes to an interviewer why Undertow is such a special book. Listen, and you'll be hooked!


You can buy the book through, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!


Or you can order All of This Is True from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. This sounds like such a fascinating read! You're right, this definitely sounds like something that could happen in real life, which is kind of terrifying. And I'm glad to hear that even with the twist already figured out, the book is still fascinating—I've definitely figured out some book twists too early and feared that the whole book would be ruined. Thanks so much for the great review!

    1. Right?? You can easily see teen fandom turning dark - great premise.

  2. I haven't heard of this book before, but it sounds really good!