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Almost Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Almost Alice

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Series: Alice (20)

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Alice continues trying to figure out exactly who she is, Pamela gets on the cast of the high school production of Guys and Dolls, and in the last third of the book learns that she is pregnant.
The Alice series walks a difficult tightrope, sometimes successfully and sometimes less so. Primarily, the series is a light, easy-reading, fun and sometimes funny series about a suburban teen girl coping with all the day to day trials of being a suburban teen girl. But with many of the books, Naylor also throws in, usually towards the last third of the book, a much more serious issue. Suicide, physical abuse, death of a family member, homosexuality, and a wide array of sexual issues... While admirable to try to deal with these serious issues, there are several potential problems with throwing them into a light book. A) The serious issue is trivialized by being thrown quickly into a fun quick read, and B) The fun aspect of the book is dragged down by the heavy material and C) Serious issues that rarely if ever have quick easy resolutions are quickly and easily resolved for the sake of wrapping up the story.
There was a bit of all three of these problems with Almost Alice. Because the big issue - teen pregnancy - happens to Pamela Jones, one of Alice's four best friends, it is inherently a more serious plot issue than if it were a secondary character we rarely hear much about. And for two or three chapters, the issue was handled with appropriate gravity. But then, at the end of the book, Pamela quickly has a spontaneous miscarriage, thereby solving the problem without her having to make any of the difficult decisions she was facing. It was too easy, trivialized the issue of the teen pregnancy, and still left the book with a heavy weight on it, after a largely light, fun story.
The Alice series is a odd phenomenon in books to me. No single book stands out as being great. Some are pretty good and some are just average. But taken as a whole, they are completely delightful. If a new reader started with this book, they would likely not read another. But if new reader starts with the first two or three, as I did, they'll likely find themselves working through the entire (vast) series, because most of the characters are likable, it's easy to see ourselves and our friends in aspects of Alice and her friends, and eventually, reading the next book almost feels like catching up with a friend instead of reading the fictional tale of an average American teen girl. ( )
  fingerpost | Mar 26, 2018 |
I do like this series. Each book last half of a year in Alice's life. This, the second installment of her Junior year, did not disappoint. I like the characters, the situations mostly ring true, and the messages are not delivered via baseball bats. There are perhaps no surprises, but there's something to be said for fiction imitating life. Some people, I've heard, do have relatively pleasant teenage years. It's a treat to read about them. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
I'm tentatively saying this was for work, because I don't think I'd have picked it up if it hadn't wandered across my desk. As usual, Alice is--well, not quite as pure as the driven snow, but certainly has herself under much better control than her friends. The writing still clunks across the page--I doubt if that will ever change--but on the whole this volume of Alice's life seems far more tame than the previous ones. I'm all for frank discussions of sex and bodies, but Judy Blume did it much more naturally than Naylor--I don't think high school girls would refer to the enhancing effects of a push-up bra by saying "look at your breasts!", for instance.

So, eh. After 20 (yes, twenty) volumes of Alice's life, she's only just finished her junior year of high school.

I don't need to read these. I can quit any time... ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 30, 2013 |
Reviewed by hoopsielv for TeensReadToo.com

Alice is finishing up her junior year and things couldn't be brighter for her: Patrick asked her to his prom, she is now features editor of the school newspaper, and she's getting along better with her stepmother. Life is good!

Scott, her secret crush, agrees to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with her. Patrick remains close to her heart, though she isn't quite sure what their relationship truly is. Her friends are busy, too, with school and boys. Alice starts to feel like she's always there rooting for them, but where are they when she needs them? It takes a pregnancy test to bring the friends together again.

This is the twenty-third book in the ALICE series. Reading an ALICE book is like catching up with an old friend. I've been a loyal fan for several years and wait anxiously for the next book to come out each time! If you are a new reader to the series, it would be easy to start with this book and read the others in the future. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 9, 2009 |
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Almost Alice. 2008. Simon Pulse: New York.
Genre: Young Adult fiction
Themes: High school, friendship, and identity.
Age / Grade Appropriateness: Recommended for grade 9 and up.
Awards: I could not find any awards, but the Alice series has made the ALA most challenged list.
Censorship Issues: After reading reviews of other Alice books, I realized Almost Alice is not as controversial as other books in the series. The girls discuss sex and there is a pregnancy scare, but nothing graphic. Alice is a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance and attends meetings, but no conflict comes out of this.
Plot Summary: This book carries on from where the last Alice book ended, with Alice in her second semester of her junior year of high school. Alice continues to be good friends with Elizabeth, Pamela, and Gwen. They are all very busy with school and extra-curricular activities, like the school musical, track, and the school newspaper. Her old boyfriend, Patrick, asks her to prom five months early and this drives Alice crazy trying to figure out what exactly he wants out of their relationship. He can’t attend the Sadie Hawkins dance and tells Alice to ask someone else to go with her. Alice has a little crush on Scott, a boy that works on the school newspaper with her, and asks him to attend the dance. Alice is confused about her feelings for Patrick and Scott, until they attend the dance, and she realizes that Scott is just her friend. This makes her question herself. She feels like every time she thinks she knows herself, something changes and she still doesn’t really know who “Alice” is. She works hard throughout the story to be a good friend to everyone. Alice thinks she is very ordinary, when compared to her friends, until Pamela has a pregnancy scare, and she decides being plain old Alice is okay.
Critique: Almost Alice has all the traits of a Young Adult book. The main characters are high school students and deal with real life situations. This book is part of a series and it might have been better if I had read some of the other books. It was more about Alice’s reactions to what happened to her friends, than Alice herself. Even though the Alice series, consistently lands on the ALA’s most challenged list, this novel didn’t really deal with anything. Alice attends meetings for the Gay/Straight Alliance and the school has a day of silence, and everything goes great. Pamela finds out she is pregnant and has a miscarriage at the end of the book. Naylor opens up a potentially hot topic and doesn’t deal with it, instead gives it a very tidy solution. Alice attends the senior prom and they have an after party at school, chaperoned by parents, where everything is great and wonderful. This does not sound like a modern prom night. Basically, Alice is a great friend and everything turns out all right. This book had potential, but didn’t quite make use of the situations that were set up.
Curriculum Uses: I can’t think of how this book would fit into a classroom curriculum, but you could use it in a grouping of books on friendship.
  adunnehoo | Oct 4, 2009 |
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To our granddaughter Tressa, with love
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It had to be in person, and they all had to be there.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689870965, Hardcover)

Is it possible to be too good a friend -- too understanding, too always there, too much like a doormat? Alice has always been a good friend to Pamela and Liz, a best friend to Pamela and Liz. But she's starting to wonder where that leaves her: What am I? An ear for listening? An arm around the shoulder? And then there's Patrick -- after ending their relationship two years ago, he's suddenly calling again, and wants to take her to his senior prom. What does that mean? As Alice tries to figure out who she is in relation to her friends, she learns one thing -- sometimes friends need you more than they let on...especially when the unthinkable happens.

Always honest, brave, and true, the Alice series never flinches from big issues, and never discounts the small ones.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the second semester of her junior year of high school, Alice gets back together with her old boyfriend Patrick, gets a promotion on the student newspaper, and remains a reliable, trusted friend.

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