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True Story: this genre-defying novel marks the arrival of a powerful new literary voice

Kate Reed Petty

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Feminism & feminist theory

A brilliant and genre-defying novel about rape, memory and the nature of truth from an exciting new voice in contemporary US fiction

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

'A mind-blowing page-turning un-put-downable heartwarming empathetic formally inventive horror suspense thriller, with a life-affirming and timely feminist message' Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot

'Where our obsession with true-life crime meets page-turner' Stylist, The best summer reads for 2020

'Provocative' Red

'Clever and inventive, this is a supremely accomplished debut about the nature of truth in a world littered with monsters both real and imagined. It's up to the reader to decide which is which' Daily Express


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.

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Praise for True Story: this genre-defying novel marks the arrival of a powerful new literary voice

  • True Story is where our obsession with true-life crime meets page-turner. - Stylist *BEST SUMMER READS FOR 2020*

  • Inventive and readable, it asks questions about truth and what defines us. - Daily Mail

  • Plays constantly with genre while weaving an addictive, perfectly balanced tale about a high school lacrosse party that ends in an accusation of sexual assault . . .[T]he work that Kate Reed Petty's powerful and haunting debut most resembles is not another novel but Michaela Coel's incendiary TV series I May Destroy You. - iNews

  • This debut novel about memory and truth is disturbing and thought-provoking. - Sunday Express (S Mag)

  • A powerful and thought-provoking examination of how the manipulation of stories can shape whole lives. - Guardian

  • My first book of 2020 is #truestory by @PettyKate and I loved it. Such a smart, powerful, ambitious book, very high concept and so effectively realised. Definitely one to look out for this summer

  • One of the most creative novels I've read. It's hard to believe it's a debut: the writing is confident and assured and draws the reader in. - Women's Way

  • Clever and inventive, this is a supremely accomplished debut about the nature of truth in a world littered with monsters both real and imagined. It's up to the reader to decide which is which - Daily Express

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Kate Reed Petty

Kate Reed Petty lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work has been published by Electric Literature, American Short Fiction, Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, and many others, and her short films have appeared on Narrative magazine and at the Maryland Film Festival. She is also co-author of the children's graphic novel Chasma Knights, with Boya Sun. Petty graduated from the College of William & Mary, and earned Kate and she holds a master of letters in fiction writing from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

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