Including Aliceby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
After four years of hoping, wishing, scheming, and waiting, the moment Alice has been yearning for has at long last arrived....Alice’s dad is finally marrying Sylvia Summers! Alice always knew they were perfect for each other when she set them up back in seventh grade, but she’s relieved that The Big Day is here. She’s never felt so excited, so… See more details below
After four years of hoping, wishing, scheming, and waiting, the moment Alice has been yearning for has at long last arrived....Alice’s dad is finally marrying Sylvia Summers! Alice always knew they were perfect for each other when she set them up back in seventh grade, but she’s relieved that The Big Day is here. She’s never felt so excited, so vindicated, so grown-up, and so...well, so left out. Now that the wedding is really happening, no one has time for Alice anymore, and the situation just gets worse when Sylvia moves into their house. Nothing is the way Alice thought it would be. Her dad and Sylvia have their new life together; Lester has his new apartment; and Alice feels like she’s on her own for the first time in her life.
She’s also starting to notice that even though Dad and Sylvia are perfectly happy together, not everyone gets along so well. Elizabeth and Ross never see each other; Leslie and Lori are breaking up; Pamela and her mother can’t seem to find a way to even talk to each other; and Alice herself has started to hear some surprising rumors about Patrick....
As Alice watches her friends sort out their problems and sees her dad and Sylvia navigate their new marriage, she starts to understand all the hard work that goes into relationships, and how even when people seem to be meant for each other, it’s not always easy to be together.
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By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
AtheneumCopyright © 2004 Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
All right reserved.
Chapter One: Getting Ready
I didn't know you could be excited and scared and happy and sad all at the same time, but that's how I started my sophomore year.
Happy because: Dad and Sylvia had set the date and would be married October 18.
Scared because: ditto. I was getting a stepmom, and I wanted things to be perfect.
Sad because: Lester had moved out.
Excited because: ditto. He was now living in a bachelor apartment a couple of miles away with two other guys, and he said I could visit him there.
Dad was already using Lester's old bedroom as an office, keeping the twin bed as a couch so Lester could come home for a night if he wanted. I wondered what kind of a bed my brother would buy for his new place -- a bed for one person or two?
"So?" I said when he stopped by to pick up another load of books. "What kind of bed did you buy, Lester? Twin or double?"
"Oh, I was thinking about one of those king-size circular numbers on a rotating base with a mirrored ceiling and a stereo in the headboard," he said.
I punched his arm and laughed. Everything seemed to be changing so fast, though, and all at the same time -- Lester's moving, the start of school, the coming wedding....We hadn't even celebrated Lester's twenty-third birthday properly. I'd just sent him a card with a certificate for a free car wash at the Autoclean.
I was feeling giddy with the "rush of life," as Aunt Sally would call it, as though I were being swept downstream by a fast-moving current, ready or not.
What I was most nervous about was that in a few weeks I'd be living here with Dad and a new mother without Lester around. Always before, I had imagined him cracking jokes at the dinner table and making Sylvia laugh. I imagined how funny it would be if he forgot and came to breakfast some morning in his boxer shorts. I imagined the four of us cooking dinner together or watching a football game on TV -- Lester being here for all our celebrations.
Now, if Dad wasn't here and Lester was gone, what would I talk about to the woman who used to be my seventh-grade English teacher? What if I said me instead of I or lay instead of lie? Who got to shower first in the morning, and what if I forgot to wipe out the sink after I'd used it?
Lester was rummaging through the refrigerator at the moment, looking for leftovers he could take back to his apartment for lunch. Suddenly I reached out and circled him with my arms, my head against his back. "I'm going to miss you," I said, and swallowed.
"Hey!" he said over his shoulder, patting my hand. "The food will never be as good there as it is here. There's an umbilical cord that stretches between me and this refrigerator, don't you worry."
Assignments were piling up on me at school, so I couldn't think about the wedding 24/7. I'd squeaked by with a C- in Algebra I last year, and now I was wrestling with Algebra II. Next year it would be geometry and the year after that, physics. And since Patrick Long, the genius, was my ex-boyfriend, I was counting on Gwen Wheeler to get me through.
Gwen and Elizabeth and Pamela are my three closest friends, and we're so different. Like the different things that make up a salad, I guess, we go well together. We'd all been assistant counselors at a camp the summer before, and that had made us closer still.
Now we were eating lunch out on the school steps, and the September sun felt delicious on my neck and arms. My thighs were toasty inside my jeans.
"Aren't you excited about the wedding, Alice?" Elizabeth asked. She looked gorgeous in a cobalt blue top and black pants. Elizabeth, with her dark hair and eyelashes, looks good in practically anything she puts on. "It's like you brought them together. This wouldn't be happening if it weren't for you."
"I know," I said. "But we've waited so long for this, I'll believe it when I hear them say 'I do.'"
First we'd waited for Sylvia to decide between Dad and her old boyfriend, Jim Sorringer. Then she was an exchange teacher in England, and then her sister Nancy got sick and the wedding was postponed. Sylvia had gone out west during the summer to be with Nancy. She had even taken a leave of absence from teaching for September and October, in case Nancy grew worse. But her sister was recovering, Sylvia was due to come home on October 1, and all systems were go. I could stop worrying, I told myself.
Elizabeth, though, looked thoughtful. "Wouldn't it be dramatic if right before the minister pronounced them man and wife, Jim Sorringer stood up at the back of the church and said he couldn't live without her?"
"Don't even think it!" I warned, hoping that our vice principal back in junior high would stay as far away from the wedding as possible.
Pamela grinned as she lifted the top half of her bun, removed the pickle, and closed her hamburger up again. "It would be even more dramatic if he announced that he had loved her first and was suing your dad for alienating her affections. You should bar Jim Sorringer from the wedding, Alice."
"Stop it, you guys! I'm wired enough as it is!" I said.
Gwen laughed. Her laugh is like warm syrup, and her skin is the color of Log Cabin maple. "I think you should bar Liz and Pam from the wedding, Alice. They'll sit there and cry and make a scene."
"No, we won't!" said Elizabeth. "We'll be looking at Lester. He'll be gorgeous in a tuxedo."
"He and Dad aren't wearing tuxedos. They're wearing suits," I announced.
"Not wearing tuxedos!" Elizabeth said.
"Doesn't matter. Les would be gorgeous without anything at all!" said Pamela. "Especially without anything at all, and you can tell him I said so."
Elizabeth Price and Pamela Jones have been crazy about my brother ever since we moved to Silver Spring four years ago. And now that Lester's in graduate school and in an apartment, they've been driving me nuts to go over and see him.
"I think it's time we met his roommates," said Pamela.
"Yes! Why don't we surprise them and take over dinner some night?" Elizabeth suggested. "We could cook it ourselves."
"You can't just walk in on a bunch of guys like that," Gwen said as the bell rang and she gathered up her books.
"Why not?" I asked, sort of liking the idea. "Lester doesn't call ahead when he's dropping by."
Gwen rolled her eyes and shrugged. "You just can't!" she said, and went inside the double doors.
There's a new girl in my gym class this year. I remember how awkward it feels to start school in a new place where you don't know a single person. I know the drill -- how you smile to show others you're friendly and approachable, but you don't impose yourself on anyone, and you try to make friends one at a time until someone invites you to join the group.
But Amy Sheldon doesn't do that. It's like she looks the whole scene over, decides where she wants to belong, and then walks over and barges in. No subtlety whatsoever. I hate to say it, but maybe if she were cute, we'd think it was funny, I don't know. Some girls are naturally hot, like Elizabeth, and some girls are naturally not. Amy, unfortunately, is not. She has a long narrow face, with eyes that come too close together, and there's a wide space between her nose and upper lip. But it's what happens when Amy opens her mouth that turns us off. She keeps coming up with comments that don't quite fit.
For example, somebody might say, "I've got this itch behind my knee that's driving me crazy!" and Amy will say, "I had chicken pox when I was five." And we just look at her, not knowing if Amy responds the way she does because she's a little slow or because her mind is actually galloping on ahead of us, computing the itch, the rash, the diseases that cause a rash, and all the assorted illnesses of childhood. Sometimes she laughs at things no one else thinks are funny, and other times she doesn't get it when someone tells a joke. She's just...well...Amy. And she wants so much to fit in -- somewhere!
"I hear your dad's getting married," she commented as we came out of the showers, our towels wrapped around us.
"Yeah, in a couple of weeks," I said.
"Am I invited?" she asked. Just like that.
"Oh, wow!" I said. "I wish we could invite the whole school, but of course we can't."
That got me thinking, though, that all my friends probably assumed they could come to the wedding. Dad and Sylvia had told me I could invite three friends to the reception, and I'd given them the names of Elizabeth, Pamela, and Gwen. But what about the ceremony at the church on Cedar Lane?
At dinner that night, just Dad and me and two pork chops, I said, "I know I can only have three friends at the reception, but how many can I invite to the wedding?"
Dad paused with a forkful of green beans balanced above his plate. "I don't know that much about wedding etiquette, Al, but I don't think you can invite people to the ceremony and then not let them come to the reception. And that guest list is out of control."
"How many are coming to the reception?" I asked.
"Sixty and counting," Dad said.
"I thought you and Sylvia wanted a small wedding -- just family and friends," I reminded him. "So who are all these people?"
"Sylvia's teacher friends at school, plus their spouses or sweethearts; my employees and instructors from the Melody Inn, plus their signifi-cant others; a few of my customers; old childhood friends of Sylvia's; your three friends; and all our relatives. We can't squeeze in another person."
"You mean none of my other friends can see you guys get married?" I asked incredulously.
"Al, how do we drive off to the reception after the ceremony and leave half the guests behind?" he said.
"Dad!" I wailed. "I've told all my friends about your engagement! Everyone at school has been hearing me talk about this for months! For years!" My eyes filled with tears. I hate that! I hate that I'm fifteen years old and I still cry when I get upset.
"Look, I'll talk to Sylvia," Dad said quickly. "I know we can't have any more people at the reception, but I'll see what I can work out at the church."
Inwardly, I had to admit that I'd fantasized about everyone I know watching me walk down the aisle ahead of Sylvia in my teal bridesmaid dress with the thin straps. I imagined them watching me take my place across from Dad and Lester, my eyes on Sylvia, but all of my friends' eyes on me.
I stayed off e-mail that evening and didn't use the phone, either. I didn't want to say one word to one more person about the wedding and then find out I'd have to un-invite everyone.
When the phone rang later, Dad answered, and finally he stopped in the doorway of my room, where I was working on a history assignment.
"Sylvia says that of course your other friends are invited to the ceremony, Alice. She said we'll order some punch and cookies there in the church lounge for people from school who would like to attend."
Life was looking up. "How many can I invite?" I asked, thinking of the whole sophomore class.
"Oh, I don't know. Five, maybe?"
"Five?" I shrieked. "Dad, it has to be at least fifteen!"
"Sylvia thinks other students from her junior high school may drop in unannounced, Alice, and the sanctuary just isn't that big. We don't want this to turn into a circus. Let's compromise: ten, max. Including Elizabeth, Pamela, and Gwen."
When Dad went back downstairs, I wrote the numbers 1 to 10 on a sheet of paper and put a name beside each number:
These are the friends I've known the longest. I could have included Donald Sheavers, my friend back in Takoma Park, but he didn't know Sylvia. I could have included Leslie, Lori's girlfriend, and Faith and Molly from the high school stage crew, and some of my friends on the newspaper staff, but they didn't know Sylvia either. The one person I was sure I would not invite was Penny, the girl who had caused the breakup between Patrick and me.
I heard Lester come in later to talk with Dad about some problem he was having with his car. So I took the opportunity to work on the wedding gift I was making for Dad and Sylvia. I'd wanted it to be something I made with my own hands, because those are the kinds of presents that Dad likes most.
I'd bought a set of white percale sheets and pillowcases, and I'd gotten this really fancy monogram pattern with an M in the middle, a B (for Ben) on one side, and an S (for Sylvia) on the other, with flowers and doves forming a circular border. It looked great on the pattern, and I'd finally gotten the outline transferred to each pillowcase and in the center of one hem of the unfitted sheet. All I had to do was embroider it.
The M would be embroidered with teal-colored thread, Sylvia's favorite color. The B and the S would be royal blue, her other color for her wedding, and the flowers and doves would be shades of green and gold. It was going to be beautiful, but I wasn't very good at sewing and it seemed I took out a stitch for every two I put in. I hadn't realized I had to make stitches so tiny. So far all I'd got done was the M and the B and half of the S, plus one dove on just one of the pillowcases. I didn't know how I was going to finish in time for the wedding. Each night I tried to put in a half hour on it before I went to bed, but it wasn't easy to find time when Dad wasn't around.
I heard someone coming upstairs and quickly put the sheet away, but it was Lester coming to say hi to me. I asked what he was giving Dad and Sylvia for their wedding.
"I gave up my room, didn't I?" he said.
"That's all?" I asked. Lester has teased me for so long, it's hard to know when he's serious.
He laughed. "Actually, I found a clock. The face is embedded in burled wood, and the grain's abso-lutely gorgeous. They can put it anywhere they like, but if it were mine, I'd set it on the mantel. We've never had a decent clock in this house. They all look like they came from Sears."
"It sounds great," I said, wondering how my embroidered sheets and pillowcases would look compared to that. I also wondered what Lester's apartment looked like now that all three guys had moved in. The furniture was all chrome and glass, I'll bet.
"Pamela wants to know when she can come over and visit you," I said. "Elizabeth, too."
"Hmm," said Lester. "I'll have to check my social calendar. Two...three years, maybe."
"They want to meet your roommates," I told him. "Are they studly? Pamela wants to know."
"Ugly as trolls," Lester said. "One's got warts all over his face, and the other's got a third ear."
Now it was my turn to grin. "Elizabeth can't wait for the wedding. She wants to see you in a three-piece suit, and Pamela wants to see you without anything on at all."
"Make that ten years before they can visit me," Lester said.
Just before homeroom the next day Karen told me something she'd just heard -- that Penny had asked Patrick out. You can't believe half of what Karen says because her day isn't complete unless she riles somebody up. Karen has a lot of good points, but discretion isn't one of them.
"So?" I said, putting my jacket in my locker. "It's a free country." They'd broken up months ago, but, I suppose, like Patrick and me, they were still friends. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Well...I just thought you should know...because it's the day your dad's getting married," Karen said, wincing a little.
Now I was mad. I was steamed. I was furious. I had saved one of my ten precious slots for Patrick, and she'd asked him out? She knew that was the day my dad was getting married. Maybe I didn't want Patrick again for my boyfriend, but I wanted him to see me in my bridesmaid dress! I wanted him to watch me come down the aisle. I wanted to see him all dressed up, smiling at me at a wedding.
"So?" I said again, trying not to show just how upset I was. "Did Patrick say yes or what?"
"I don't know," Karen said.
I had planned to e-mail the seven new people I was inviting to the ceremony when I got home that afternoon, but now I was determined to
invite them in the cafeteria the next day. Since Penny usually sat with us, it would be much too obvious if I called out ten names and hers wasn't one of them, but I was going to make sure she knew she was excluded. Let her see how it felt to be unwanted. Let her get a taste of being odd man out.
I guess I had never fully admitted to myself how angry I was at her for stealing Patrick away from me. Even though it was Patrick's decision as much as it was hers. Even though they weren't even going out together anymore. I never wanted her to know how much that had hurt me. But now I was surprised at how strangely satisfying it felt to know I could exclude her from the wedding.
So after I finished my egg salad at lunch that day, I got up and casually moved around both tables -- we always push two together -- whispering the invitation, the time and place, adding that they were invited to stay for punch and cookies afterward.
Even though I told Jill about the invitation when Penny was talking to Mark, and I told Mark when Penny had turned to Jill, Penny could sense that something was up and looked quizzically around the table. She glanced my way then, and I, Miss Innocent, laughed a little too loudly at a joke Brian just told, ignoring her. Totally. I can't say that my dad's wedding was making me a better person exactly, but I'd have to admit it gave me a lot of pleasure.
The thing was, Amy Sheldon had been sitting at a table next to ours, and she must have overheard me say something about the wedding. Because she got right up from her chair and came over.
"Alice," she said, "am I invited now?"
I couldn't believe she asked me outright like that, even though I'd told her before that she wasn't. And because I figured that at least one of my ten friends wouldn't be able to make it, and because I knew that Penny was listening -- okay, especially because I knew she was listening -- I said, "Sure, Amy, we have room for exactly one more, and you're it."
Penny looked away then and gathered up her books. I should have felt bad I'd hurt her feelings, but I didn't feel sorry in the least.
Copyright 2004 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Excerpted from Including Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Copyright © 2004 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books, including the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh and the Alice series. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To hear from Phyllis and find out more about Alice, visit AliceMcKinley.com.
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This book was so good. It is just like the rest of the Alice books. You will not want to put it down. You might not understand it if you haven't read the other Alice books, but it is still good!
I Loooooove alice books.There great!I would defintely reccomend this book to anyone out there. I am thirteen years old, and I started them when I was eleven. I tried to catch up so I could read the new one. And I have been waiting for a good six months I am so excited!!!Read this anyone if you ever get the chance to read it!!!!:)
i have been reading the alice books since i was twelve, and am now almost 16, and they never bore me! Alice seems so real, and goes through so many of the same stuff as today's girls. I recommend these books for anybody ages 10 and up!
this book will be the BEST ALICE BOOK and will probably be the longest. don't forget to reach the author on her site read all the alice books. naylor is the bestest author in history (of course) read her books and read all of them (the alice ones) these books are awesome just read one and your hooked its so fun.
This Alice book deliverd and was full of great laughs. Alough it is not as awesome as the others it was enjoyable. Enjoy!!!!!
this book was pretty sweet, i do have to say it wasent as exciting as the others, but i still loved it.
including alice is the best book! alice's dad finally gets married, which is what i've been waiting for since him and sylvia met.
I really love the Alice Seris but I was kind of dissapointed with this one. I didn't think it was that good, not much happend. It wasent bad but it wasent one of my favorites.
it is a wonderful book full of surprises
I have read a lot of Alice books and i just found out there's MORE!!! So i hope every girl gets the chance to read these books!!!
I just love ALICE! I've read all of her books, and will read them all!
I love all of the Alice books and can`t wait 2 read this 1!What i really hope is that Alice and Patrick get back 2-gether!