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None of This Is True: Summary and Ending Explained

none of this is true ending explained

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell hit the shelves in 2023, marking her 21st literary work.

Jewell, a bestselling author known for psychological thrillers and crime fiction, gained fame with her debut novel, Ralph’s Party in 1999. Her books, translated into over 25 languages, consistently grace the New York Times bestseller list.

Summary | Ending Explained | Book Club Questions

None of This Is True Summary

The story beings with the main character Josie, who step out of her comfort zone to celebrate her 45th birthday, and meets Alix at a local pub. Despite living in the same neighborhood, their lives differ significantly. Josie resides in a small apartment with her husband, Walter, and daughter Erin. Her older daughter, Roxy, left under undisclosed circumstances. Alix, on the other hand, lives in a spacious home with her husband, Nathan, and their two children.

Alix, a renowned podcaster, catches Josie’s attention. Seeking a change, Josie proposes they collaborate on a podcast, documenting her life changes and past history. Despite reservations, Alix agrees, and they start the project in Alix’s home studio. As the interviews progress, shocking truths about Josie’s life emerge. Josie met her husband at 13, married him at 18 (he was 43), and their eldest daughter, Roxy, ran away. Josie believes Walter has been abusing Erin for nearly six years, but she avoids confronting the issue.

Josie’s confessions make Alix uneasy, especially as Josie starts inserting herself into Alix’s life. Despite the growing discomfort, Alix is determined to finish the explosive and crucial podcast. During interviews at Alix’s house, Josie takes small items from Alix’s life, hiding them in her own drawers.

Tensions escalate when Josie and Walter have dinner at Alix’s house, leading to a confrontation. Nathan, Alix’s husband, deals with alcohol addiction, a fact shared with Josie. Angry about the ruined dinner, Josie shows up at Alix’s doorstep hours later, claiming Walter took his frustrations out on her and Erin.

For a week, Josie stays with Alix, making herself at home and even wearing Alix’s clothes. They continue recording podcast interviews, including discussions about the disappearance of Brooke Ripley, Roxy’s first girlfriend.

Alix starts feeling suspicious of Josie, especially as Josie collects items from Nathan’s pockets to create doubts about his fidelity in Alix’s mind. When Josie finally leaves and Alix’s sisters visit, Alix thinks Josie’s influence is over. However, that night, Nathan disappears after being seen getting into a car rented with Erin Fair’s credit card. Alix realizes Josie has kidnapped Nathan, triggering a search.

Police break into Josie’s apartment, finding Walter dead in the bathtub, and Erin badly beaten and tied to a chair. Roxy returns home to care for Erin, and when Erin wakes from her coma, she reveals that Josie committed the crimes. They clarify that Walter wasn’t abusing Erin; instead, he supported her gaming streams every night, helping her gain independence. Erin discloses that Josie killed Brooke, whose body is found hidden in the Fairs’ garage.

The police locate where Josie was holding Nathan, but it’s too late—he is dead. Josie sends Alix a text claiming Nathan’s death was accidental, and she only intended to give Alix a taste of freedom. She sends a vaguely threatening letter, but Alix doesn’t hear from her again.

A year later, Josie overhears two women on a bus discussing the Netflix documentary based on Alix’s podcast. Josie recalls the night of Brooke’s death, realizing Roxy accidentally killed Brooke and the family collaborated to conceal the body. Despite everything, Josie clings to the belief that, above all else, she was a good mother.

None of This Is True Ending Explained

Part 3 begins optimistically for Alix—Josie has left, her sisters are on their way, and life seems to return to normal. However, there’s a worry that Nathan might vanish while her sisters are visiting, bringing the pressure back.

Josie is executing her plan, following Nathan, and the tension builds as the story heads towards its climax. Katelyn’s arrival, introduced earlier through Netflix documentary transcripts, requires less explanation, as Josie hired her for a purpose yet undisclosed. When Katelyn approaches Nathan, combined with Alix finding clues in her closet, Josie’s plan starts to unfold.

Josie leaves a key under the mattress, found by Alix during cleaning. Everything Josie does seems deliberate now, raising the question of why she left the key where Alix would find it again. The implication is that Alix is meant to find it and solve the mystery it unlocks. As Jewell later reveals, this key unravels the persistent mystery of Brooke Ripley’s whereabouts.

Despite finding Brooke’s remains, the truth about her final moments shifts in these last chapters, with Erin and Roxy presenting one version, and Josie recalling another in the final chapter. The author introduces another layer using bus passengers’ random opinions to suggest skepticism about Erin and Roxy’s version, strategically preceding the revelation that Roxy is the one who killed Brooke.

Despite Josie’s personal responsibility for many wrongs, the complex circumstances indicate others share the blame. In the story’s conclusion, chapters switch between Josie’s and Alix’s perspectives, detailing Nathan’s disappearance and death. The full extent of Josie’s involvement and her actions becomes apparent.

From this point, events unfold rapidly. Alix calls the police, leading them to Josie’s house where they find Walter dead and Erin tied up. The last member of the Fair family, Roxy, is introduced to the reader. Roxy, possibly having escaped Josie’s need for control, presents yet another perspective on the Fair family’s events.

Erin and Roxy share details about Erin and Walter’s gaming stream and his efforts to help Erin build an independent life. This adds another layer to the Fair family’s story, offering a different take on Brooke’s death, which Josie contradicts in her own thoughts in the last chapter.

Chapter 38 concludes Alix’s part of the story. The author uses Alix’s podcast to point out a flaw in true crime stories—they often lack a clear ending. This notion is reinforced when Alix receives a final letter from Josie, where Josie maintains her innocence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Josie’s threat to Alix and her children shows her persistent need for control, even in her last communication.

Just as Alix cannot find closure, readers are left with uncertainty. Josie’s final thoughts offer a different take on Brooke’s death, but there’s still uncertainty. Despite claiming to be a “true mother,” Josie’s repeated emphasis on it, even to herself, suggests she’s not entirely sure. The author purposely leaves many questions unanswered, following the true crime genre’s conventions.

Happy reading! ❤️