Monday, November 08, 2010

Alice in Charge

Alice in ChargeAlice in Charge Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

It's Alice's senior year and she seems to think that now she's almost an adult, and off to college next year, she can no longer ask for help with anything, because "doing it yourself" is part of being grownup. So, there were a lot fewer conversations where her dad and Lester only talk as a way to impart VALUABLE INFORMATION ABOUT LIFE STUFF to the reader. So that was nice, but Alice's attitude bothered me and just led to a lot of "I'm so stressed out and can't handle this" self-invented drama.

Along with this, Alice befriends a Sudanese refugee and teaches him our American ways, battles a hate group at school, battles a sketchy teacher, and is (rather condescendingly/patronizingly) nice to a student who seems to be on the autism spectrum, but it isn't specified.

The ending, as usual is a little pat, and Naylor's explanation as to why people join hate groups is over-simple to the point of being insipid* but Alice is so gosh-darn EARNEST and reminds me a lot of me at that age that I really like her, even though Naylor has no eye for little details.

For instance:

Pam wants to go to school in New York, it has to be New York, the implication being New York CITY. She lists all these schools she's thinking about, and they're all in the city, except then she mentions Cornell. Which is in New York STATE, not City. (And according to Google maps, is the same distance, time-wise, from the city as Silver Spring is.)

It seems really, really weird that Kay's parents would have had an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages aren't that common in modern China and are most likely to take place in rural areas among classes that would be unable or very unlikely to have the money and skills necessary to immigrate to the US. So, unless Kay's parents are 100 years old, this is just... no.

Molly has a boyfriend who's "Indian. Pakistani, anyway." Because they're TOTALLY THE SAME THING. And I bet he's totally ok with his girlfriend thinking they are.

Why are 2,714 people graduating with Les? And why are they all WALKING? Speaking as someone who has gotten a Master's degree from Maryland in the past few years, grad students are invited to the big ceremony, but no one walks and most don't go. Each school has its own graduation ceremony where they walk. And I highly doubt that 2,714 people are earning a Masters in Philosophy at a December graduation. Naylor does get points for pointing out the totally true ridiculousness that graduation is 2 days before Christmas. (I walked on the 22nd. FOR REALZ.)

What is with Alice enjoying cheesy school presentations by outside groups on various dangers facing teens? Does Naylor really think most kids think these are actually funny and cool?

So, yeah, I've often blogged about my love/hate relationship with this series. Why can I love a character, but hate the books so much? Alice deserves better than poorly-researched after-school specials she gets thrown into.

*SPOILER ALERT! It's because his father is emotionally abusive! And says he's too wussy to be a Marine. So that's why he's a Neo Nazi.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Peaceful Reader said...

The small details really do make a big difference, don't they! I enjoyed your love/hate review of this book.

Jennie said...

I have such a love/hate relationship with this entire series. I really, really like Alice, but the books drive me crazy. I can't think of another book, let alone series, that frustrates me so much.

Well... I really liked Princess Diaries but had issues with Mia... so that might be like the same thing in reverse?