Moving right alone with Alice #8. Alice starts eighth grade and learns all about choices and their consequences.
Alice and her friends take a course on making critical life decisions, in which each student is given a hypothetical life-altering situation (marriage, unintended pregnancy, DUI) and must figure out how to make the best decision given the cards their dealt. This leads to arguments, laughs, and a lot of insight into what some of the hard facts of growing up entail.
Outside the assignment, Alice is faced with some less hypothetical critical choices. When “Robert Redford cute” health teacher Mr. Everett is accused of molesting a student, Alice knows the accusation is false and most come forward to her school vice principal. This required courage, especially because the vice principal is competing with Alice’s dad for the heart of English teacher Miss Summers. But I kind of of have a problem with the larger aspect of this storyline. It’s clear that Jill, the student accusing Mr. Everett, is just angry at him for getting a boring assignment and that this is her way of getting back at him. But how often are accusations of sexual assault false? I’m worried that kids reading this will take to heart the message that false sexual assault accusations are often made by jilted or upset women to get back at upstanding men, which we know is super rape culture-y. This was obviously not Naylor’s intention, but in retrospect I think it’s problematic.
Overall, this is a strong Alice book — the message about planning vs. letting life happen to you is richly layered and complex.
- Alice and her dad’s relationship is particularly sweet in this one, too. Alice finally realizes she can’t fix her dad’s romantic problems for her, and their relationship is better for it.
- Elizabeth’s mom goes into labor, and Elizabeth, in a very in-character way, can’t deal, so Alice steps in to get them to the hospital in time.
- Patrick is still so goddamn uninteresting that I can’t even come up with a significant thing he did, besides talk about how rich he is.
- Crystal is getting married, finally putting to an end the Marilyn/Lester/Crystal love triangle, which had been stretched for six books and badly needed to be put to rest.