THE AGONY OF ALICE.

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The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

★★★

The Alice books made such an impact of me growing up, and they still hold up well. I can never believe that these are some of the most banned books in America when they handle growing up in such an innocent and thoughtful way.

Arguably, the lesson of this one is that beauty is on the inside, as observed through Alice’s relationship with Mrs. Plotkin. The way their relationship unfolds is very sweet and ties everything together quite nicely.

Observations on a re-read:

  • I was surprised at all the references to Christianity — Methodists vs. Catholics, Easter mass, St. Agnes, etc. I don’t think I picked up on that when I first read them, and it’s another reason I’m so surprised these are banned.
  • Alice is such an easy character to emphasize with. Her yearning for a replacement mother is so palpable and hard to read.
  • Alice’s first incredibly-detailed Amtrack ride, and definitely not her last.
  • I love how undramatic these books are. All of Alice’s ‘agonies’ are things we all experience growing up. It’s so refreshing to find a heroine whose just a regular girl doing regular things. No special powers or skills or supernatural love interests. This is definitely a book I would want my kids to read.
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