Covers the the end of seventh grade and the first half of summer, in which Alice turns thirteen and finds herself in-between child and teen. Definitely one of my favorites in the series!
In this one, Alice goes on a grown-up date with her brother, does the pencil test for the first time, and takes a trip to Chicago with Pamela and Elizabeth. This last incident is one of the most memorable in the series. Pamela poses as an older woman on the train and ends up on a date with a creep, only to find herself in way over her head. Alice finds herself in-between plenty of things: between child and teenager, between a friendship and a relationship with Patrick, between sexually prudish Elizabeth and sexually liberal Pamela.
From being in-between so many things, Alice learns that you don’t have to be in a hurry to grow up, because its going to happen anyway. You can enjoy whatever life stage you’re at without worrying too much about who you’ll be later, because things have a way of usually working themselves out.
This is one of the shorter books in the series (I think about 190 pages), but it has way less filler than the others. Naylor takes quick pace and moves along from event to event succinctly.
- This is also the book of Pamela’s hair transformation. After having hair “so long she can sit on it” for the first five books, the infamous Gum Incident leaves her with the more mature feathery cut she has for the remainder of the books.
- Great character development for Pamela and Alice here. Pamela has always prided herself on acting older than she is, and now she gets to see some of the consequences of growing up too fast. Elizabeth, however, remains the same.
- There’s also a nice scene with Mrs. Plotkin, Alice’s sixth grade teacher and mother-substitute.
- Alice also gets to do some grown-up things for the first time, which delights her. Most memorably, she goes on a ‘date’ with her brother Lester, which involves a fancy dinner, play and dancing. She and Lester end up running into Crystal Hawkins whose stuck on a disastrous date and rescuing her.
- This is also the book where Alice accidentally starts crying while reading a poem in her seventh-grade class and learns that you can embarrass yourself, and things will still work out alright.