Reluctantly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


The third book in the Alice series, covering the first semester of seventh grade.
Alice decides she wants to be liked by everyone in seventh grade, but runs into trouble when she meets Denise Whitlock, who mercilessly picks on Alice. So the lesson in this one is how to deal with a bully. Alice deals with Denise by killing her with kindness, an approach that might not work so well in real life, but makes for a nice conclusion here. I also liked how Naylor humanized Denise towards the end of the book, rather than leaving her as a two-dimensional villain.

This is one of the books that I remember distinctly from my first read-through, when I was in about sixth grade. Lester has to choose between Marilyn and Crystal, which includes a sitcom-style scene when they both show up at his house to care for him when he’s sick. Still funny, years later.

Alice’s family gets some solid character development in this one. Ben has been kind a distant father figure in the last two books, and things finally get a bit more flushed out here. He’s still much gruffer and less warm than I remember him being when I originally read these books. I wonder if that changes throughout the series.


  • I enjoyed the lack of Patrick in this one. He’s kind a dud.
  • Alice goes to the library to do some research on changing bodies and finds it to be a judgement-free zone. This is a wonderful message for tweens and teens who may not feel they can bring some of their questions home.
  • I got this from my library and it’s a first edition straight from 1991. There’s mysterious stains on every single page and the cover looks like the opening credits of Grease.
  • Alice says Aunt Sally dresses like a “lady banker”, rather than just a banker.

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