Monday, July 16, 2007
Dangerously Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
In this latest (and 22nd) installment, Alice is doing the first half of her junior year. She has a new boyfriend and takes a few more risks (some of them major errors). But most of all, she tries to break free of her Miss Goody Two-Shoes (MGT) image and prove that she's a bit more nuanced as a person (even if she isn't quite sure what that will mean). More concretely, she rides a motorcycle, gets busted at a party by the cops, and goes just a bit further than her girlfriends have gone with a boy.
I've always been a fan of the Alice series (and it's the only series that I read religiously), but what worked well when Alice was 12 or 13 gets a bit old as she becomes an adult. No matter how old she gets, Alice remains terribly sheltered and innocent, more prone to mischief than real trouble. Naylor appears to understand this and has made an effort to create an edgier episode, but (like an overprotective parent) she really isn't willing to let go of her character. Alice makes errors in judgment which are quickly corrected for before even the reader can identify the mistake. In the end, she really is an MGT -- far too prim and proper to be believable. The truth about Alice is that she's always worked better as a character for middle school readers. While there is some pretty explicit sex in here, this book (like the others) will really appeal to the 12-14 year olds (as long as their parents don't find out what they are reading!).