Wishing a very Happy Publication Day to Kate Reed Petty for her startlingly original and intriguing debut novel, True Story.
It’s safe to say I have never read a book like this one before! Marketed as a genre-defying campus novel, psychological thriller, horror AND crime noir (hence the 4 different covers), the narrative is told through a mixture of straight text, film scripts, emails and drafts of the main protagonist’s statement for her college application.
The story centres around Alice who, drunk, and on the way home from a high school party shares a lift home with 2 male members of a lacrosse team, who later claim to have sexually assaulted her when she was asleep. It looks at how profoundly the events of that night affect Alice’s future and the futures of her alleged attackers and close friends.
From the beginning the reader is unsure what is truth and what is imagined, exaggeration or rumour. I really liked the idea of trying to piece together the true version and impact of events through the different media and viewpoints, including that of Nick, a member of the lacrosse team that hadn’t directly been involved in the attack but became complicit through having to blindly back up his teammates. Kate Reed Petty’s writing style is really engaging, and there were some sections that I struggled to put down.
However, I’m not sure I fully “got” all the subtleties and symbolism that she’s clearly spent a lot of time and thought weaving into the plot. Some of the switching between characters and narrative styles felt a little jarring to me (I’m sure completely intentionally on the author’s part), and I couldn’t quite make out the relevance of a couple of the sections, even after I’ve spent quite a while mulling it over.
It’s the kind of novel that would make an excellent book club choice as there’s just so much to discuss and I’m certain it would divide opinions within many groups.
True Story is published by Riverrun/Quercus and is out today! With thanks to the publishers for gifting me a digital copy for review.