Hello and welcome to the second stop of the #AllofThisIsTruePH blog tour! Thanks to my dear friend JM @ Book Freak Revelations for letting me be a part of this!
I will never not find a single narrative told from multiple perspectives compelling. It is endlessly fascinating, to me at least, how the writer uses this device to examine the inherent power—and limitation—of story: that it is shaped by the person who tells it. And that is what I really enjoyed in Peñaflor’s sophomore novel, All of This Is True. That sense of not getting the whole account. That some things were being constantly and purposefully withheld from me. And that it was told through a series of interviews, online articles, and book excerpts was such an excellent narrative choice.
And today, I am sharing an excerpt from the novel itself! Here; you’re welcome:
So, tell me about Fatima Ro. There are a lot of people who are curious about her right now.
All right. But I’m just going to say this outright because it’s probably the one thing we still agree on—me, Soleil, and Penny. We were shallow before we met Fatima Ro. We were all about the scene. You know what I mean about the scene: the parties, the trinkets, the lifestyle. We hosted.
House parties at Penny’s place. It feels like forever ago. Ugh. [shakes head] All those people, the throbbing music . . . Handling all that money.
We collected a cover charge to fund subsequent parties. Very industrious.
That’s us. [sighs] We met on Orientation Day in seventh grade when we were grouped together for the Graham scavenger hunt. Winners become orientation leaders the following year. We won by splitting up and then finding the last clue together—the school seal on the roof.
You’re a good team.
We were, yes . . . before this. Anyway, our parties were epic. The last one we hosted was casino night. We had game tables and chocolate poker chips. It won’t be outdone for years.
That’s pretty impressive.
[laughs] Oh, please. We thought taking selfies on the roulette table was the stuff of life. The reality was we were bored out of our skulls. You see, the basic human need for emotional intimacy can’t be satisfied by a sushi station or a celebrity DJ. Fatima made us realize that. She changed everything for us. Even that phrase, “the stuff of life,” that’s something I picked up from her. I wouldn’t have said that just now if it weren’t for her; I probably would’ve said something more like “We thought taking selfies was so Vogue-worthy.” But now, I’m saying “the stuff of life” because Fatima pretty much gave us a whole new language, a new way of thinking, of living. When she took us in, all of a sudden I realized . . . we all realized that we were starving to be part of something meaningful. Becoming friends with Fatima Ro—I mean, actually being part of her inner circle—was it.
Were you a fan of her novel Undertow?
Definitely. That’s how this whole thing started. Absolutely. All of us were fans. Well, we girls were, anyway. Jonah was along for the company. But still, even he was fascinated by her. I read Undertow when it first came out. When I found out how young Fatima was—barely out of college—it made sense that I felt close to her writing. She got me. I love Undertow as if it’s a living being, which is passion in its truest form. That’s what separates a casual interest from a passion. I credit Fatima for my understanding of that.
You see, you can be in love with a thing the way you can be in love with a person. A thing can physically trigger the same chemical responses as another human can: oxytocin and vasopressin. Fatima taught me this. Her book proved it. But I just cringe at how the media is comparing it to other novels. Because what you have to understand is that Undertow was never a Harry Potter phenomenon. I mean, nobody’s wearing Undertow Halloween costumes. There’s no Undertow Disney theme park. But that’s what’s so authentic about it. If you love Undertow it’s because you get it, not because there’s a Tom Hanks movie and a Happy Meal. This book has a much quieter, more thoughtful following. And to me, it feels more genuine to be part of something personal like that.
Four Long Island teens befriend a bestselling YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined…
Lygia became a writer by writing letters to a friend she met on a cruise ship when she was 14. She is the author of Unscripted Joss Byrd (Macmillan) and All of This Is True, which will be published by HarperTeen US, Bloomsbury UK, and translated in six countries in summer 2018.
Lygia also teaches child stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order SVU, I Am Legend, and others. She lives with her husband on Long Island where she rides horses and watches reruns of everything.
Check out the rest of the tour stops!