At the end of last year, I reviewed The Agony of Alice in full. For these next couple of books, I felt that mini reviews would suffice.
“According to Pamela’s cousin in New Jersey, the worst thing that can happen to a girl is to start seventh grade without a boyfriend. So Alice is glad that she and Patrick are going together. But Patrick the boyfriend is a lot more complicated than Patrick the friend. What’s an appropriate gift for Alice to give him for his birthday? What should she do if he wants to kiss her and she hasn’t just brushed her teeth?
Alice really likes Patrick, but sometimes it seems as though life would be a lot simpler if they were still just friends.”
My Snippet Review: I love this book! Why? Because this book takes place in the summer, and a lot of fun things happen in the summer! For one, Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth get their first boyfriends, and with that experience comes learning all about boys! Their friendship grows with new experiences and the drama that comes with them. As Alice navigates her new relationship with Patrick, she learns some very important lessons about friendship and selfhood.
What I really enjoyed about this book is that we get to see Alice’s relationship with her family grow even more. Alice’s relationship with her older brother, Lester, buds a bit.We see him being more understanding to Alice’s middle school girlness, and he shows more care and concern towards her. Alice also discovers some secrets in the attic which connect her more with her parents. It is nice to see her family relationships grow a bit more, and I am hoping that trend will continue.
My Bookshelf Rating: A Fourth Shelf Book! (4 out of 5 Stars)
Reluctantly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Published March 1991, 182 pages
“Alice McKinley comes home on the first day of junior high with a list of seven things about seventh grade that stink. Just about the only good thing she can think of is that she’s friends with everyone. Maybe that’s how to survive seventh grade—make it through the entire year with everyone liking her.
That turns out to be easier said than done, when Alice gets on the wrong side of the school bully, Denise “Mack Truck” Whitlock. But Alice’s problems with Denise pale in comparison with the romantic entanglements of both her father and her older brother, Lester. And when Alice decides to help them out…life gets even more complicated.”
My Snippet Review: Starting middle school/Junior High can be an extremely scary and nerve-wracking thing, and I think that Ms. Naylor captures all of the emotions perfectly. Alice finds all of her relationships changing in this book: with Patrick, with Pamela/Elizabeth, with her father, with Lester, with Aunt Sally, and with her teachers. This year, she wants to like everyone and for everyone to like her. But then Denise shows up. And Denise represents all of those people that are hurting and just want someone to see them. And Alice shows her what friendship means.
What I really enjoyed about this story was the Lester love triangle. Ms. Naylor was WAAAAAAY ahead of the game with love triangles, but having the love triangle occur in a minor character’s life is humorous because both the reader and Alice know that he is going to get in trouble! We also get some dad dating action (or attempts), and you see Alice try and figure out what her role in her father’s love life is (don’t worry, she learns).
I really love and appreciate how Ms. Naylor explores different aspects of growing up in each of her novels, so that each one can get some major attention. But she also keeps the big emotional growths consistent in the series arc. Once again, Alice struggles with not having a mother–this time in the form of not understanding why her outfit doesn’t work–but it is the little details like this that show both her still struggling and her coming to an acceptance of how her life is.
Yay for bubbles!
My Bookshelf Rating: A Fourth Shelf Book! (4 out of 5 Stars)
All But Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Published April 30th 1992, 151 pages
“There are, Alice decides, 272 horrible things left to happen to her in her life, based on the number of really horrible things that have happened already. She figures that out after the disaster of the talent show. And she realizes that there is no way to fend them off.
But, she reasons, if you don’t have a mother, maybe a sister would help. Maybe lots of sisters. A worldwide sisterhood! Sisterhood means more sympathy and less likely odds that the next horrible thing will strike when Alice is by herself. But, Sisterhood also comes with a whole new set of problems for Alice. Can she be Sisters with all three girls who want to be her brother Lester’s girlfriend? In fact, how do boys fit into Universal Sisterhood at all? And how far should she you go when being part of the crowd means doing something you don’t want to do?
Alice copes with life in her own way, and her solutions to her endless problems are often funny and surprisingly right.”
My Snippet Review: This book tackles some really delicate issues of identity. As Alice continues in her 7th grade year, she finds herself in an opportunity to be one of the popular–all she has to do is get her ears pierced! She joins all of these clubs with Pamela and all of a sudden Alice finds herself getting attention from the handsome stooges! But Alice beings to see what all of this attention means, and what being popular requires, and she begins to have doubts. She battles with herself between being who others want her to be and just being Alice. And that is a pretty hard lesson to learn.
With regards to the family, Alice’s dad has started dating! Because of this, the relationship between Alice and her father evolves as boundaries are set and a respecting relationship grows. I love reading the conversations between Alice and her father–they are so sarcastic with such tenderness, it makes me giggle! And Lester has been changing his attitude, being more helpful and considerate. I wonder what is making him think differently about life?
Overall, I just love where Ms. Naylor is taking this series. She really allows her characters to blossom and bloom throughout each book. And while this series focuses on Alice, you are also given glimpses into how others are feeling, too. And Patrick resurfacing more in this book, which is great, because he is so cute!
My Bookshelf Rating: A Fourth Shelf Book! (4 out of 5 stars)
Well, until I read some more Alice!
Love and Vanilla Scented Candles,