Oh, how I have missed Alice! Years ago I read through every available Alice book by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I fell in love with this girl being raised by a widowed father with an older brother, Lester. Alice was a girl I could relate to. I enjoyed her voice as she navigated issues with friends, her dad's dating, school, and growing up. Unlike some series, Alice does age in these books. Now the series stands at twenty four books (I think), and Alice has gone from an elementary student to a college student. I haven't quite made it that far in my reading, having just finished Alice On Her Way.
In this installment Alice is looking forward to getting her license and her sixteenth birthday. Patrick, her long-time boyfriend (who I loved!) is a thing of the past, and she is now dating Sam. Alice is definitely more grown up in this book, yet she is still Alice. I enjoyed watching Alice being faced with some more grown up issues and feelings while still retaining her original character. Naylor does not force Alice into being a goody-goody, instead allowing her to do normal teen activities. When Alice and her friends take a class trip to New York City, they manage to sneak out one night and go to a nightclub. She is very attracted to Sam and enjoys the physical side of their relationship, yet questions in her mind whether the physical aspect is what she enjoys more than Sam himself. Naylor provides Alice an opportunity to explore these growing feelings toward boys by having Alice enrolled in a class (signed up by her father against her wishes) at her church about s*x. There she learns a lot about her own feelings and about relationships and s*x all with the guidance of two adult leaders.
Watching Alice's friends navigate their teen years is also interesting. Pamela, still hurt by her mother's desertion, begins to act promiscuously. Faith deals with an abusive boyfriend. Sam, Alice's new boyfriend, seems overly needy and too attached to his mother. As Alice became irritated by his constant attention and affection, I could almost feel Alice's irritation myself.
Alice On Her Way just increases my love for this girl and book series. Alice makes me laugh and she makes me hopeful that their are girls out there who are as level-headed and interesting as she is.