If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll know that I’ve been reading the final compilation in the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor over the last few weeks. You and Me and the Space in Between contains the final three Alice books, and while I would normally do one review, I thought I’d do mini reviews of each book just for fun.
Alice in Charge
“Alice’s memorable last year of high school is being overshadowed by some very difficult situations. A sudden increase in vandalism at the school leads Alice to discover an angry and violent group of students—teenage Neo-Nazis. Then an awkward hallway encounter gets a classmate to confess that a new, attentive teacher has been taking advantage of her. All at once, Alice’s safe and comfortable school starts feeling strange and serious—all this plus the normal senior year pressures of college applications and life-making decisions. Alice has two options: step up or melt down. The choice is simple, and true to the character that readers have loved for years….Alice steps up—in a big way.”
Okay, I know that every Alice book deals with some pretty heavy life stuff, but this was the first time one of the books really hit home for me. Even though this book came out ten years ago, it just goes to show that unfortunately some things never change when it comes to racism and hate groups. I hate that this is a reality and something I can relate to no less, but I read this book in record time because the subject was so compelling to me. There is no real resolution to the issue at hand, other than Alice’s school opening a dialogue for all the students to express themselves, and I suppose that is the only realistic way a high school could handle this situation. Not to mention, the plot of Amy being sexually harassed by a teacher (poor Amy, if ever there was a character to feel sorry for, it’s Amy) and people are debating about whether or not to believe her – talk about triggering. I loved this book because Alice grows so much more than she has in the past books. She’s dealing with all of this on her own, there is little to no plot line with her friends that pushes her as much as navigating these two specific situations does. Five stars!
“Alice McKinley is standing on the edge of something new—and half afraid she might fall off. Graduation is a big deal—that gauntlet of growing up that requires everyone she’s known since forever to make huge decisions that will fling them here and there and far from home. But what if Alice wants to be that little dandelion seed that doesn’t scatter? What if she doesn’t have the heart to fly off into the horizon on the next big breeze? And what if that starts to make her feel like staying close to home means she’s a little less incredible than her friends—and her boyfriend Patrick? Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is be honest with yourself—and sometimes the most incredible thing you can do is sneak a little fun into all this soul-searching.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
Oh boy, I think this is my favorite Alice book by far, truly. Alice’s final semester of senior year is jam-packed with everything life can throw at her, and Alice manages to navigate it all in the most relatable of ways, as usual. I think the reason this is (most likely) my favorite of the series is because Alice is being faced with so many unanswerable questions and decision-making that she has never faced before. Her anxieties about where everyone is going to college, and if she will get in to her school of choice, not to mention where she will end up going, were very realistic. More so perhaps was her confession to Patrick that she doesn’t feel she’s spreading her wings enough; when she breaks down and questions why he even likes her since she isn’t doing anything amazing with her life, oh it was just heartbreaking. This book really showed how Alice has to learn to be happy for the people in her life and not compare her path to other people’s. Everything in this book gave me the feels: Alice’s starring role in the play, going to her prom with Patrick, the fact that she wrote “I Made it, Mom” on her graduation cap, ugh. The ending came all too quickly with this one but it was very much satisfying. Five stars, yet again.
Alice on Board
“Everything Alice has ever known is about to change—from where she sleeps at night to how close her closest friends will be. So Alice is meeting that seasick feeling head-on by setting sail as staff on a Chesapeake Bay cruise ship. And like any last great adventure before starting college, Alice knows she’ll need sunblock, an open mind, and…oh yeah, all her best girlfriends. It’s the perfect summer job. Perfect, that is, when things are going perfectly. But when they’re not, Alice has to figure out how to weather unexpected storms of all sorts. Which could be perfect after all—perfect training for her next big adventure—college.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
When I first saw what this book was going to be about, I was really intrigued. I have never been on a cruise, so everything in Alice on Board surrounding the ship and coastal traveling was new to me. I was so glad that Alice, Liz, Pam, Gwen and Yolanda got to have one last hurrah together before parting ways for college! The cruise ship is set to go up and down the Chesapeake Bay all summer, with ten separate cruises meaning that each week a new set of passengers boards the ship. Pamela’s father and his fiancé Meredith join the cruise for a week, but then so does Pamela’s mom who, predictably, creates a spectacle of herself the entire time she’s on board. Those were some especially cringy moments! When the cruise ends earlier than anticipated (no spoilers), Alice returns home and ends up spending her last week in Silver Spring by staying with her brother, Lester. On one of their last nights of summer vacation, Alice and her friends gather at Lester’s place, out back by the fire, and talk about the future, not just college but where they might be afterward. They vow to take a trip together again one day, and just like that, the summer is over and so is the series. I actually would have been okay if the final book had been the last one, Incredibly Alice, but this one last adventure was fun to read about nonetheless!
The final book in the series, Now I’ll Tell You Everything explores Alice’s post-grad life. Since I like to plan things in advance, I’m most likely going to read this one in March. I can’t wait to read it but I will be so sad when this series is finally officially over for me!