I can’t believe I’ve been reading the Alice books since I was twelve, and I can’t believe PRN stuck to it and wrote twenty-eight books about Alice and her friends. NOW I’LL TELL YOU EVERYTHING/ALWAYS ALICE is the final book in the series and covers Alice’s life from her first year of college through her sixtieth birthday. All of the previous books covered about four months of Alice’s life, so this was a huge break from form. But it might not have been the best narrative decision.
From the get go, the pacing of this book is all weird. Many of Alice’s experiences in college are glazed over — her new friends, her classes, her experiences living alone, are all mentioned in perfunctory ways. Meanwhile, we get a very (VERY) long chapter devoted to Alice working as a baker in Oregon for the summer. The key moments the reader wants to learn more about just don’t get the attention they deserve. (view spoiler) The pacing evens out after Alice graduates and gets settled into her adult life, but it’s still awkward and clunky at times.
Alice’s voice is kind of lost as she grows older. A lot of what I loved about her was her spunk, her eagerness to connect to other people, to make everyone happened. And that’s bound to change as people get older, but I felt like Alice was flattened as she grows older, and ends up just listing events as they happen. Similarly with Pam, Elizabeth and Gwen…they all seem to become a generic voice of middle-aged wisdom and complaints, rather than the distinctive personalities they had in middle and high school.
Post-college life, the faithful Alice reader (who I assume is the only person reading this) won’t be disappointed. I can’t say much more without spoiling you, so just go and read it already!! If you’ve stuck with Alice until the very end, you deserve to know what happens to her, heartbreaks, traumas, celebrations and all. Goodbye, Alice! Thanks for the memories.
Is the book predictable? Ohhh yeah. Of COURSE Alice ends up being a school counselor, just like she’s wanted to be since high school. Of COURSE she ends up with Patrick, because it was written in the stars when she walked in on him in his underwear at Gap. On her marriage to Patrick — the best moment of the whole book to me happened: when Alice goes up to the attic and opens up the box with her mother’s wedding dress in it and sees the note her mom left for her in there…oh my goodness. Well done, PRN.
I liked Alice’s life as a mother. Her kids were well-developed characters, and I appreciated the time PRN spent making them into people and not just stand-ins. Her frustrations with her daughter seemed so real, so understandable. She and Patrick parented well together.
Also, of course Elizabeth met her husband on Amtrack. Amtrack should be paying PRN advertising money at this point with all the mentions it’s gotten over the series.
The ending is cheesy as hell, but it kind of had to be. I’m glad we got to read the letter Alice wrote again. I missed little, awkward Alice. But she got the happiness she deserved, and I’m glad it went down the way it did.