Outrageously Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Another Alice book finished. I am maybe, kind of, sort of regretting my decision to binge on this series. They’re good books and all, but some of the humor and characters get a little repetitive when you go one right after the other. I might take a break after I finishing ‘Achingly Alice’ — I don’t want reading these to feel like a chore.
Anyway! This one takes place during the fall of Alice’s eighth grade year. As Alice sees big changes happening in the lives of people around her — Pamela’s parents separating, Elizabeth’s new baby brother and Crystal Hawkins (her brother Lester’s on and off again girlfriend) getting married — Alice feels like her life isn’t moving fast enough:
I wanted action! Decisions! I wanted, as Les might say, an event to change the course of human destiny, mine in particular. I wanted chapters to close, so that others could open up, and I could get on with it!
I totally relate to this feeling. When you’re so young and you feel like everything that happens to you is actually happening around you, because you have so little control over your own life. You just can’t wait to grow up and achieve a certain level of autonomy.
Alice deals with this restlessness in a series of mostly unsuccessful ways, most notably dyeing her hair green. She also attempted to match her green hair to her green eyeshadow and I totally remember when this was a thing in middle school. Wearing a pink shirt and getting the exact same shade of pink eyeshadow to match it. My mom would never buy me makeup so I unfortunately (fortunately?) missed out on this trend, but Alice’s ill-fated makeup choice, and her family’s reaction to it, was the funniest moment in the book for me.
In the end, Alice learns that you don’t have to be shocking and outrageous to grow up. In her less outrageous moments, Alice helps Pamela through her problems at home, keeps a cool head when her father falls off a ladder, and generally teaches readers that there’s more than one way to act like a grown-up:
It’s strange, but as I was sitting there at the head table looking out over the room, I began to feel that my life was moving forward — that at last I was growing up, because I realized how fooling it would have been if Lester had run off with Crystal. She’d made her decision with no guarantees whatsoever, and Les and I had to do the same. Maybe Lester wouldn’t marry anyone. Maybe I’d change my mind and decide not to be a psychiatrist after all, but at least I was inching closer to the person I wanted to be — more than just a clone of everyone else, but not so outrageously different that I had to wear green spikes on my head.
Overall, another lovely Alice book with a sweet message and a healthy dose of humor.
Also if you’ve made it this far down in the review — I’ve started bolding key parts of reviews. Is this a yay or a nay? Does it help capture the essence of the review or does it just look annoying?