Thursday, December 18, 2008

Almost Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

In the latest installment of the Alice series, Alice is now finishing up her junior year. As usual, there are plenty of adventures (a Sadie Hawkins dance, working for the Gay Student Alliance and the school newspaper, a production of Guys and Dolls, a friend from work choosing to become a priest, etc.) and a few deep issues (mostly dealing with sex and forgiveness). But for the most part, the rather frantic pace of Alice's just continues forward. Long-time readers will be excited that she goes to the prom with Patrick.

In my mind the franchise is mostly treading water at this point. She's a fun character to catch up with and I get the appeal, but aside from chronicling what Alice eats for dinner and the latest goofy adventure she has, Naylor seems to have run out of things to actually say in these books. Some of the installments (Alice In-Between and Alice the Brave, for example) were beautiful stories that just happened to be snapshots of her life. Now, it seems more like we are cramming in a lot of activity, skimping on the reflection, and full speed ahead. Alice seems shallow in comparison to her younger days.

I'll probably get savaged by the multitude of Alice fans out there, but I think it is fair to say that something has truly been lost. I've always been taken by the idea of the project (documenting a single person's life from childhood to adulthood) but I want it to be an emotional journey where I can see the insides of the person, not just a diary account of all her nutty adventures. Let's slow down a little and smell the roses!

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