Alice #2, covering the summer between sixth and seventh grade.
Marked improvement over the first book in the series, mostly because the characters and their relationships are more flushed out and dynamic. Naylor wrote ‘Agonies’ to be a standalone, you can see in ‘Rapture’ that she has an eye towards the future of the series.
The lesson in this one is that you don’t have to be in a hurry to grow up, which is such an important one for middle school-aged kids to hear. Naylor is an expert at teaching lessons in her story without patronizing her reader or moral-thumping. I think tweens, especially, are sensitive to being talked down to by adults, so Naylor’s skill is crucial here. Again — how are these books banned?!
Observations on a re-read:
- Much less Christianity in this one — maybe, again, since Naylor is building a series instead of releasing standalones.
- I like the new covers of the series. The photographic covers of my childhood definitely look dated in retrospect, and this gives them more of a timeless and innocent look.
- I like the moment of self-realization when Alice realizes she’s too concerned about what Patrick thinks of her. Especially because Patrick is built up be a good guy, it shows how no matter who your with it’s most important to love yourself first. I know plenty of adults who could use that reminder.
- It’s actually pretty cool that Alice breaks up with Patrick because she decides she’s not ready to have a boyfriend. I don’t know how realistic it is, but it’s another good lesson in not growing up too fast.