True Story – Kate Reed Petty

Inventive, electrifying and daring, True Story is a novel like nothing you’ve ever read before.

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.

Startlingly relevant and enthralling in its brilliance, True Story is by turns a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir, each narrative frame stripping away the fictions we tell about women, men and the very nature of truth. It introduces Kate Reed Petty as a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction.

Book Info: Print length: 328 pages. Publisher: Riverrun. Publication Date: 4 Aug 2020

Kate Reed Petty has been recognized with a Narrative magazine 30 Below Award, as well as grants and scholarships from the Robert Deutsch Foundation, The Mount, Bloedel Reserve, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her short fiction has been published in Electric Literature, American Short Fiction, Blackbird, Ambit, Nat. Brut, and Los Angeles Review of Books, and she has a master of letters from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She lives in Baltimore.

My Review:

This book has been on my radar since 2020 having been highly recommended by a few members of my book club. True Story is a debut novel and possibly one of the most difficult books to review because I just don’t know what to say.

It’s been described as a genre-defying, literary crime and feminist novel, which it probably is, but it’s also intelligent, creative and unique.

True Story starts with a group of high school students, popular and on the lacrosse team who take a drunk school girl home from a party and allegedly rape her. She has no memory of the attack, but the rumours start circulating which causes everyone involved to make life changing decisions.

The story is narrated by Alice and Nick, both of whom were central to the sexual assault and are retelling their versions of events, but their recollections vary considerably and the reader doesn’t really know the true story until slowly the layer of lies are peeled away.

True Story has some truly flawed characters, some are really unlikeable and some are fascinating. Overall, I found the story thought-provoking and also highly topical with some important and complicated issues handled sensitively.

Recommended for those who want something a little different from the usual books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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