Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Alice in the Know, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

In this latest installment of the Alice series, she is in her summer before her Junior year of high school. She has her first job (outside of her Dad's store), a vacation with friends, deals with some racism and peer pressure, and has a few more embarassing incidents. In sum, we're just passing a couple of months with our old friend.

I'm a loyal follower of Alice (having read all 21 of her books) but I do it now more out of that sense of loyalty than out of literary interest. The books have never been High Literature, but they have an innocent charm to them. I was a bit surprised to see Naylor actually include some mention of smoking (tobacco and marijuana) in this installment. I can only suppose that someone (other than me!) has pointed out that she is awfully sheltered from the world that most teens live in. She still is, but so are many popular YA heroines.

What is a bit more disappointing with this series is how much it just treads water. The earlier books (I think Alice In Between is probably my favorite) made an attempt at a story arch. But now, it mostly seems as if we're just being fed a series of anecdotes, as if Alice was writing us a long email of what she's been up to. That is charming, but just not very substantive.

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