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


All of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor
Review by Bronwyn
Warning: spoilers

Delving into All of This Is True, I was pleasantly surprised by the easy, fun and varied layout of this book. Alternating between interviews, diary entries and novel excerpts, Lygia Day Penaflor kept a heavy topic somewhat lighter through this fluid layout.

All of This Is True is full of toxic characters who are on the other side of a tragic event. Miri, Soleil, Jonah and Penny can never get back the friendship they once had and, yet, the more I read the more I doubted their friendships were so great even to begin with.

It’s an interesting concept – befriending your favourite author and getting lost in the excitement of it all. As an obsessive book nerd myself, I can quite easily relate to the gang. What I wouldn’t give to be noticed and ‘accepted’ by one of my favourite authors. But what becomes clear is that their new friend, author Fatimo Ro, hasn’t so much as accepted the friends as she has ‘collected’ them.

Personally, the only character I liked in this book was the interviewer Nelson – who sits across from the three girls (all on separate occasions, of course, as their friendship has taken a bitter turn) in an attempt to discover the truth of what happened. He remains optimistically objective throughout – or so it appears. After finishing this book, I wanted to sit down with this fictional character and ask him what he really thought of the girls. 

Miri is perhaps one of the more fascinating subjects. While she is, to me, extremely unlikeable, I was interested in what motivated her, what annoyed her and so utterly curious to find out how she could continue to see Fatimo Ro is such a pure white light.

Penaflor presented not one  – but two – very difficult concepts to me as a reader. The first surrounding the author Fatimo Ro: can she be forgiven for using her new ‘friends’ as inspiration for a book? This is something that most, if not all, authors do. After all, it wasn’t her fault what happened to Jonah. Not hers alone, that is. She has to answer for the part she played in it. But what level of responsibility does she hold? This is a central argument in the story, one that still coils unresolved in my gut.

The second concept is one surrounding Jonah’s past. Sure, we all make mistakes… but when does a mistake become unforgivable? When does it become defining? When does it change you forever? I understand peer pressure. I understand humans can be weak. I understand the whole ‘sheep’ mentality. So I can understand why Jonah did what he did. But just as we expect a liar to lie again, or a killer to kill again, how could anyone trust that the dark side of Jonah won’t rear its ugly head again? 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book that challenges your morals.

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