Outrageously Alice

Outrageously Alice

3.7 15
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
     
 

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Now that she is setting into eighth grade, the class she used to envy, Alice discovers it isn't as exciting as she thought. She's tired of being the same old Alice, and longs to be a bit outrageous.

Instead, she finds herself in situations that are more embarrassing then they are thrilling. She likes dressing up as a showgirl for Halloween, but hasn't counted

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Overview

Now that she is setting into eighth grade, the class she used to envy, Alice discovers it isn't as exciting as she thought. She's tired of being the same old Alice, and longs to be a bit outrageous.

Instead, she finds herself in situations that are more embarrassing then they are thrilling. She likes dressing up as a showgirl for Halloween, but hasn't counted on what happens in the broom closet at school. And she's delighted to be a bridesmaid, but feels awkward at the bridal shower. Even Patrick begins to seem childish to her.

Elizabeth and Pamela, however, her two best friends, feel that life is changing too much for them. Elizabeth finds that a new a boy at school is attracted to her, while Pamela faces a serious problem at home. Lester, too, Alice's brother, can't quite believe he's losing his old girlfriend, Crystal. When Alice dials Miss Summers, however, the woman her father loves, there is always the hope that this time she will get the mother she has always wanted.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
In this latest of Naylor's "Alice" series, thirteen-year-old Alice is tired of being the same old Alice. So to make her life more exciting, she experiments with makeup and clothing much to the dismay of her father. Adolescence is not easy for her. Asked to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of her brother's former girlfriend, the wedding activities, including the bridal shower, shock her as does what happens to her in the broom closet at school. Young and old readers alike will delight in Alice's many adventures in this quick, laugh-filled novel.
VOYA - Barbara Jo McKee
Alice is back and is in as much turmoil as ever! As an eighth grader, she feels the world is spinning around her while she has concluded she has "no body, no personality, and no hobbies." She is to be a bridesmaid for her brother's ex-girlfriend Crystal and feels strange about that. When invited to Crystal's lingerie bridal shower, she is shocked by a "Test Your Sensuality" quiz and goes home to query her father and brother, who are at a loss for words. On the home front, she wishes her English teacher would marry her dad so she could have a mother, and she agonizes over her friend Pamela losing her mom to a divorce. When her boyfriend Patrick French-kisses her in a closet during a Halloween party, she is upset and perplexed. Alice is growing up and cannot understand some of the adult conversations and actions that are going on around her. She is a character we have grown to love, and we look forward with trepidation to her high school years. 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).
The ALAN Review - Wendy Bell
When I first opened my reviewer's copy of this novel, I groaned. A first-time reader of an Alice book, I was sure it would contain some of the features of the YA genre at its worst: trite plot, one dimensional characters, inane dialogue. Was I ever totally wrong and wonderfully surprised! I thoroughly enjoyed Alice's attempts to be different as much as I sympathized with her father's single parent difficulties in raising a daughter. Thanks to Naylor's sense of humor and obvious affection for her characters, both boys and girls will recognize themselves in this wise, funny, realistic, and easy to read novel. Even though I don't fit into the ages 9-13 suggested readership, I want to read more. Needless to say, confirmed Alice fans will welcome the latest addition to this popular series.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Alice is, as always, likable, humorous, and true to life. Now 13 and in the eighth grade, she worries that she is too ordinary. Alice admits she has done embarrassing things, but never anything outrageous, and she decides to do something about it. She dresses up as a showgirl for Halloween, with unhappy results. She starts wearing makeup and goes to school with her hair spiked up and green, even though her father forbade it. Her brother's former girlfriend, Crystal, has asked Alice to be a bridesmaid, and this brings an array of new questions for Alice such as, what kind of bra do you wear with a backless bridesmaid dress? Does Crystal still think about Lester? What if you find out on your wedding night that you don't like sex? When she goes to the lingerie shower for Crystal, she realizes she knows nothing about sex and relationships. Her curiosity and concerns about growing up continue to be what make her so realistic. Even if Alice doesn't realize it, she is maturing. For instance, she knows how to be a good friend to Pamela, whose parents are getting divorced, and she knows what to do when her father falls off of a ladder. Naylor naturally and seamlessly introduces pertinent story lines and characters from the previous books. Another charmer in the long list of stories about this engaging character.Elisabeth Palmer Abarbanel, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
At 13, Alice thinks her life deserves a prize for "most boring"; she can't see anything special or interesting about herself. She's mortified by her ignorance when she takes a sensuality quiz at a bridal shower, certain that if her mother were alive, she'd be more on top of the things an eighth grade girl should know—instead, she's still just muddling through with her father and her brother, Lester. Alice decides to change her image, donning green eyeshadow (a lot of it) and one day even spiking her hair with green mousse. Her self-improvement campaign includes trying some new activities, and she develops a real interest in photography. For readers, it's what Alice does when she's not trying to be outrageous that counts: She helps her friend Pamela with family problems, keeps a cool head when her father falls off a ladder, roots for him in his quest to win Miss Summer's hand, and knows how and where to draw the line when an older boy makes unwelcome advances.

Naylor (Alice in Lace, 1996, etc.) makes sure Alice is herself, the same girl readers have loved in eight previous books. As usual, her story is told with grace and economy, liberally laced with humor, and brimming with serious feelings as well.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416979623
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Series:
Alice Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
4.72(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.47(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 9

On Saturday, Crystal Harkins came over to take me to her aunt's for my fitting. I'd told Marilyn at the Melody Inn that morning that I was going to be in Crystal's wedding, and she'd said, "Have fun!" I never saw a woman so happy about another woman's wedding plans. As soon as Crystal was out of the picture, Marilyn would have Lester all to herself.

It felt really strange to be in this grown-up world of weddings and fittings and measurements and stuff.

"Ready?" she asked, when I answered the door. "You're going to love your dress, Alice. It looks great! Danny was asking about you."

"Who's Danny?" I wanted to know, climbing in the car beside her.

"The guy you'll be paired with in the procession. Peter's brother."

"What's he like?"

"Well, next to Peter, of course, he's probably the handsomest guy in the world. Just kidding. But he's a real hunk."

I gave a nervous giggle. Whenever I'm nervous, I giggle. I imagined walking down the aisle on my own wedding day, giggling. It would be just like me.

"Are you nervous?" I asked her. "About the wedding and everything?"

She laughed.

"I'm nervous about the wedding, all right, but what's 'everything'?"

"Oh, you know. What comes after."

"The wedding night? Sex?" She laughed again. "No. Not really. "

I was quiet and stared out my side window.

"Anything on your mind, Alice?" Crystal asked, and I remembered that this was the woman who had rescued me once when I had a permanent I couldn't stand, who showed me what to do with my hair. If I was ever to ask someone about sex, why not Crystal?

I took a deep breath. "What if after your wedding night, you . . ." I shrugged. "Well, what if you don't like it?"

"Sex?"

"Yeah."

"Why wouldn't you like it? It's a natural function."

"So is throwing up," I said.

"Listen, you like to eat, don't you? You like to sleep? To stretch? To sneeze?"

"But I don't like to eat everything."

"Well, you don't have to do everything, either. You can tell your husband what you like and what you don't, and then you can try something else. What you've got to remember, Alice, is that sex isn't like what you see in the movies."

"What movies?" I asked curiously.

"Well, almost any movie. There are lots of ways to make love. Not everybody uses the missionary position, you know."

I was about to ask how religion got into it when Crystal gasped, "Oops! We just went through a red light, Alice. See, you've even got me flustered!"

Ten minutes later I was standing on a low stool in a gorgeous jade green gown while a woman holding pins in her mouth moved around me on her knees, hemming up my dress. She took tucks here and there, at my waist, at the bosom, until I looked as though I had been poured into that dress.

"Now!" Crystal's aunt said, rocking back on her heels. "Just don't gain any weight until the wedding's over, okay?" Then she turned to Crystal. "She almost looks like a Barbie doll, doesn't she?"

"That anorexic thing?" said Crystal. "No way. Alice, don't you ever get as bony and malnourished as that nitwit."

As she drove me home again, I said, "Crystal, could I ask you something?"

"About wedding nights?" She grinned.

"No. I just wondered if you ever . . . well, think about my brother anymore. Do you ever miss him?"

"I don't miss his going for weeks at a time without calling. I don't miss calling him only to find out he's with Marilyn. I don't miss being in his arms and thinking he really loves me, and then discovering he says the same things to Marilyn Rawley. No, I don't miss that at all."

"But don't you miss some of the good things?"

Crystal suddenly grew quiet. "Yes. Some of the good things I miss very much. But I love Peter now, and I simply don't allow myself to think of Lester," she said.

That worried me some. I would have felt better if she'd said she'd never loved anyone as madly as her husband-to-be.

I guess I was thinking about it at dinner that night, because I realized I'd tried to wind up a forkful of spaghetti five times, and finally Dad said, "Something on your mind, Al?"

I didn't want to tell Lester what Crystal had said in the car for fear it would really mix things up, so I tried to remember what else we had talked about. Wedding nights . . . throwing up . . .

"I thought missionaries were preachers," I said finally.

"Huh?" said Lester.

"This is a topic of conversation, Lester," I said primly. "I just want to know what they do."

"They don't usually preach as much as they go to foreign countries and teach people how to do things a little better," said Dad.

"Sort of like sex therapists?" I asked.

"What?" said Lester.

"They show people the right positions and everything?"

Dad and Lester stared at me.

"Are we talking religion here, or are we talking sex?" asked Dad.

"Crystal said that there are lots of ways to make love," I said knowingly.

Lester dropped his fork. "When did you see Crystal?"

"We went for my fitting today, and we were discussing sexual intercourse, for your information."

Lester coughed.

"And she said that not everybody chooses the missionary position. So I was just wondering about missionaries."

Dad laughed. "Oh, honey, Marie would have enjoyed you so much at this age. It's too bad you only have Les and me to help you muddle through."

I still didn't understand. "So what's the missionary position, anyway?

"Well, it's been said that when missionaries went to foreign countries in the past to convert the natives, they talked them into wearing clothes and giving up what they felt were unusual sexual practices. They taught them that the only acceptable way to have intercourse was with the woman on the bottom and the man on top. So ever since then, that's been referred to as 'the missionary position.' Got it?"

"What are the others?"

Lester looked at Dad. "Will she never quit?"

"I want to know!" I insisted. "How will I ever learn if I don't ask?"

"Okay," said Lester. "Woman on roof, man on ladder; woman in boat, man on water skis; man on table, woman on chandelier . . ."

"Cut it out, Les," said Dad. "Al, whatever position a man and woman find themselves in, they can usually figure out a way to make love, and whatever is comfortable and gives them pleasure is the right way. Okay?"

"Just for the record," Lester said, "what did Crystal say was her favorite way of making love?"

"Lester!" I said. "I'm surprised at you. I'm her bridesmaid, after all. You don't think I'd give away Crystal's secrets, do you?"

And I grandly got to my feet, went upstairs, and called Elizabeth.

"Elizabeth, you know that missionary fund you collect for?"

"Yes?" she said.

"Do you know what missionaries do?"

"What do you mean?"

"They teach natives how to have sex."

"What?"

I love to tell Elizabeth things about the church that she doesn't even know herself. "I just found out. They go to primitive cultures and show them the right position."

Elizabeth gasped. "How do you know?" "Dad just told me." "Alice, I've been collecting for the missionary fund for two years!

"Well, think of all the good your dimes are doing," I said.

I was so thrilled with my new discovery that I had to tell Pamela, too. "Have you ever heard of the missionary position?" I asked. And then I forgot all about it, because I could tell that Pamela was crying.

"What's wrong?"

"I miss Mom and I don't want to leave Dad," she said, weeping. "Oh Alice, I've never been so sad in my whole life."

Copyright© 1997 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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Meet the Author

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books, including the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh, the Alice series, and Roxie and the Hooligans. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To hear from Phyllis and find out more about Alice, visit AliceMcKinley.com.

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