True Story by Kate Reed Petty – Book Review

Title: True Story

Author: Kate Reed Petty

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Quercus

Publication Date: 4th August 2020




After a college party, two boys drive a girl home: drunk and passed out in the back seat. Rumours spread about what they did to her, but later they’ll tell the police a different version of events. Alice will never remember what truly happened. Her fracture runs deep, hidden beneath cleverness and wry humour. Nick – a sensitive, misguided boy who stood by – will never forget.

That’s just the beginning of this extraordinary journey into memory, fear and self-portrayal. Through university applications, a terrifying abusive relationship, a fateful reckoning with addiction and a final mind-bending twist, Alice and Nick will take on different roles to each other – some real, some invented – until finally, brought face to face once again, the secret of that night is revealed.


True Story is a book that I’ve been hearing about for quite a while now and I have been so looking forward to reading it. It definitely lived up to it’s hype in my opinion. It is not a book that is easy to describe because I actually think it’s better to go in blind with this one. Without saying too much I would describe it as the story of how one cataclysmic event or even rumoured event can drive and alter the course of a persons’ life for many years and how the concepts of truth and memory are intertwined and subjective. Most of all it is about who has the right to tell the ‘true’ story and how they should tell it.

It took me a little while to get into True Story but once it got me, I could not stop reading. It is compulsively addictive and totally unpredictable. It is told in a number of different formats, from multiple drafts of a university essay application to film scripts which keeps the reader on their toes and almost feels jarring in the best way possible . I love it when a book experiments with structure and does something a bit different and it worked perfectly in this case. The structure shows the many different ways that stories are told and interpreted. The two narrators, Nick and Alice, are unreliable enough that the reader is never quite sure of what is real and what is imagined. They are both damaged people and certain parts of the book are incredibly harrowing. The depictions of both abuse within relationships and alcoholism feels horrifyingly accurate and often deeply upsetting but I think it really manages to get across the pain and trauma that human beings can inflict on each other but also on themselves.

I found True Story hard to review because it kind of defies description but I hope I’m managing to get across how original and memorable it is. The best way I can describe it is that it is the kind of book which really gets under the skin of it’s readers. It is the sort of book that challenges and provokes a reaction. I highly recommend picking it up and experiencing it for yourself – it is absolutely worthy of all the hype it has received in my opinion.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.

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