Achingly Alice

Achingly Alice

4.4 17
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
     
 

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Alice must choose between Patrick and Sam in this repackaged installment of a beloved series.How can someone be in love with two people at the same time? It doesn't make sense to Alice—until Sam, her friend from Camera Club, starts to pay attention to her. Sam is quiet, gentle, and a terrific dancer, and Alice likes being with him. But Alice has been

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Overview

Alice must choose between Patrick and Sam in this repackaged installment of a beloved series.How can someone be in love with two people at the same time? It doesn't make sense to Alice—until Sam, her friend from Camera Club, starts to pay attention to her. Sam is quiet, gentle, and a terrific dancer, and Alice likes being with him. But Alice has been Patrick’s girlfriend for almost two years—so why is she interested in another guy?

As Alice stumbles her way through the minefield of early adolescence, there are plenty of bumps, giggles, and surprises along the way. Every girl should grow up with Alice, and with this irresistible new look, a whole new generation will want to.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Barbara Jo McKee
Eighth grader Alice McKinley wishes the world would just remain still and stop spinning. She has been trying to marry off her father to her English teacher and there is a complication. The vice principal is also in the mix as a rival. Alice herself likes Patrick, a drummer, but she also enjoys being with quiet Sam. Her friends Pam and Elizabeth are also having problems, with families and "feminine" problems that are hard to discuss. All in all, life is a mess. Once again the author has used the character of Alice to portray the trauma that young girls must endure, and her comic dialogue will assure them that they will survive. Naylor does not mince words, so when she describes pelvic exams-one of the "horrors" of young women-or talks about sex, she is refreshingly honest. She touches on many subjects that are unique to an age that is very unsettled. Her dialogue may upset some, but it is very true to the age of the characters. Families are also shown in a realistic light and reflect today's society. Junior high girls will recognize themselves in Alice and identify with her immediately. Funny, real, and heartwarming, this book will attract many readers. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Being thirteen is not easy and even more difficult if you don't have a mother to provide guidance. But Alice is refreshingly honest and candid. She has a great relationship with her dad and a pretty good one with her older brother Lester. In this installment of the series, Alice desperately wants her father to marry Miss Summers, "the beautiful English teacher at her school." The other story threads include the trio Elizabeth, Pamela and Alice learning more about sex, pelvic exams and other passages into womanhood. Naylor has a real knack for relating the humor along with the angst in teen life. Girls have many positive messages to glean from this book and others in the Alice series.
KLIATT
To quote from the hardcover review in KLIATT, September 1998: Good middle-school fare, with Naylor continuing with her ninth book about Alice as she grows up. In this one, Alice is hoping that her widowed father marries her favorite teacher, Miss Summers. She talks with her dearest friends about everything in their lives. This chatter includes Pamela's anger that her parents are separated and her mother has a new boyfriend; another friend, Elizabeth, has to have a pelvic exam for a vaginal discharge, and she gives her friends a horrified blow-by-blow description of the exam. (Every teenage girl dreads her first pelvic exam, and this should fascinate readers.) A wonderful character is Alice's older brother, Lester, who goes to college but is always there for Alice to consult when she needs him. Miss Summers spends Christmas with them and gets snowed in and must spend the night as Alice's roommate, so Alice is alive with hope that her father's romance will succeed and that Miss Summers will become her new mother. This is a sequel to Outrageously Alice, and not the end of stories about Alice and her family and friends. KLIATT Codes: J-Recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 149p., Ages 12 to 15.
— Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9Achingly Alice is achingly delightful. Naylor's 10th book about this character coming of age is honest but fun. Alice, now in eighth grade, decides to make a plan for her future, starting with getting her priorities in order, such as helping her father's love life along, thinking about a career, and improving her own relationships. As she watches her beloved English teacher waver between marrying her father and a past flame, and wonders about her own feelings for her sort-of-steady boyfriend and her budding interest in another boy, Alice discovers that true love is a difficult thing to pin down. Her two cohorts, Elizabeth and Pamela, are experiencing growing pains as well. With each Alice book, Naylor gets slightly more frank, dealing in a no-nonsense way with issues affecting today's younger teens. She goes into some detail about pelvic exams and describes the girls' first sexual feelings such as getting "the hots" when they kiss a boy. Alice, her family, and her friends are average people to whom readers can easily relate. Conversations with a bemused but loving older brother, constant emergency phone calls to Elizabeth and Pamela, and a good sense of self-worth help Alice navigate her way through the heartaches of eighth grade. Writing honestly about everyday situations, Naylor finds just the right mix of poignant moments and laugh-out-loud humor, making this heroine as appealing as ever. A wonderful look at the agonies and ecstasies of adolescence.Evelyn Butrico, Cold Spring Harbor Library, Greenlawn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Readers who have, with Alice, been waiting impatiently for her widowed father and favorite teacher, Miss Summers, to pick a date will have to wait some more; the Alice series (Outrageously Alice, 1997, etc.) continues to feature comic twists, comfortably familiar characters who still have surprises to reveal, and a plot that includes some serious issues. As she tries to decide whether to stick with boyfriend Patrick or play the field, Alice accompanies Elizabeth on her first visit to a gynecologist and gets an earful afterward, goes from the high of having Miss Summers over for Christmas to the low of hearing that she spent New Year's Eve with another man, ruminates about topics as diverse as masturbation and careers, participates in a class project designed to analyze deceptive TV commercials, and struggles to cope with Miss Summers's devastating announcement that she'll be spending the next year in England as part of a teacher exchange. Naylor continues to usher Alice, and readers, toward adolescence with this well-knit, frequently hilarious story, cemented with buckets full of information, reassurance, and common sense. (Fiction. 10-13)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689805950
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
08/28/1999
Series:
Alice Series
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.11(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

from Chapter One

One of my teachers, Mr. Everett, used to tell us, "Be a person who makes things happen; don't just let life happen to you.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately because I'm starting to plan my life-as much as any life can be planned, I guess-and I wrote down my list of priorities. What do I most want to happen first? That's easy: I want my dad to marry Miss Summers-the gorgeous teacher with the blue eyes and light brown hair.

They've been seeing each other for a whole year now, ever since seventh grade when I invited her to go to the Messiah Sing-Along with us. When Dad found out I'd invited my English teacher, he thought she'd be a little old woman he'd have to help down the steps, and was delighted to find that she's intelligent, warm, talented, gracious, beautiful, and, in short, a real sweetheart. She'd make a wonderful wife for Dad and a mom for me, with only one little hitch: Someone else is in love with her, too: Jim Sorringer, our vice-principal.

I'm pretty sure she loves my dad; I've seen the way they look at each other, and they enjoy the same things. It was when Mr. Sorringer took a leave of absence to get his Ph.D. in California that Sylvia Summers and Dad first met, and now that Sorringer's back in the picture, Miss summers is torn between the two great loves of her life. That's the way I see it, anyway.

The other priorities on my list are:

2. Decide on a career I'd really love, which I think is going to be psychiatry, but I'm not sure.

3. Get to know some other guys, even though I really, really like Patrick Long.

4. Do something about my body-hair, skin, waist, legs-everything.

5. Be a better sister toLester and a better friend to Elizabeth and Pamela.

Those are my short-term goals. Marriage and kids and a house and stuff aren't even in the picture yet, but I decided these are the things I should think about first. And since numbers two through five would be a whole lot easier it I had a mother to help me make decisions, I've committed myself to putting all my energy into getting Dad and Miss Summers married.

I used to think I couldn't stand it if they didn't. The thought of having to go through high school, to dances, through breakups and disappointments, getting married, even, without a morn's advice, somebody to talk to late at night about woman stuff, was just too awful. Now, though,

I realize that even a mom can't solve everything, but I still want Miss Summers to marry my dad, for his sake. Worse than not having a mother myself is seeing my dad unhappy My own mom died when I was in kindergarten. Lester remembers her better than I do because he's seven years older than I am. I keep getting memories of her mixed up with memories of Aunt Sally, who took care of us for a while after Mom died.

I'd already asked Miss Summers if she wanted to go to the Messiah Sing-Along with us again this year, and she'd said yes, if she was invited. So I made it official, and Dad was really pleased. Better yet, I found out that Miss Summers invited him, in turn, to the school band concert, the middle of December. But most wonderful of all, Dad announced at dinner one night that Miss Summers was spending Christmas with us.

I gave a yelp of delight and dropped my fork, splattering spaghetti sauce on the front of my sweatshirt.

"Here?" I gasped.

"We could just take her caroling through the neighborhood, if you'd prefer," said Lester.

But I was still staring at Dad. "Christmas Eve and Christmas Day both?"

"I think so," said Dad, smiling

I leaned across the table and looked hJim right in the eye. "Where is she going to sleep?" I asked eagerly.

"Al!" said Dad. (My full name is Alice Kathleen McKinley, but Dad and Lester call me "Al.")

"She can always sleep with me!" I begged, pleased that I had a new double bed. What I wanted to know, of course, was whether she would be sleeping with Dad.

" Sylvia only lives in Kensington," he said. "That's about a twenty-minute drive from Silver Spring, as if you didn't know" And then he changed the subject.

I couldn't wait to tell Elizabeth and Pamela at the bus stop the next morning.

"Where is she going to sleep?" they both asked together. I'm not the only one interested in details.

"I don't know yet," I told them. "I'll keep you posted."

For Elizabeth, of course, everyone else's life seems more interesting than her own right now because, after being the only child in her family for thirteen years, her mom's had another baby and, according to Elizabeth, conversations at her house revolve around formula and diaper rash. And Pamela's parents have separated, so she'd rather talk about anything than that.

"Well, I don't think she should sleep over at your house," said Elizabeth. "It just wouldn't look right."

"You're the only one who would be looking, Elizabeth, because you're right across the street," I told her.

Copyright © 1998 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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