When I was in fourth grade, I was loaned a book from a friend. This was nothing new. As a voracious reader, I borrowed books from my friends all the time. The book given to me was a new author and it was the third book in the series. Even back then I was a big stickler of reading things in order but as I had no access to the other books at the time, I gave in. That book was Reluctantly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and it introduced me to the world of Alice McKinley which I never left after that. Twenty one years later, I find myself three weeks away awaiting the publication of the last book in the series, Now I’ll Tell You Everything.
This is the longest series I have ever read in my life. The series actually started with the first book, The Agony of Alice, in 1985. I joined the fan club in 1992. For the past 21 years, I have eagerly awaited the release of an Alice book. I have literally grown up with her. As Alice has grown from a 3rd grade to her senior year of high school, I’ve followed her every step of the way. One time because I couldn’t afford to buy the book and the library didn’t own it, I would spent a month going into the bookstore every week to read a few chapters of Patiently Alice. I’ve reread the series several times over the course of those 21 years but just this year, with the release of the last book, I decided one more time to reread the entire series. That meant reading 27 books, which I did from the end of June until just this past week. So many memories came rushing back as I read all the books. Literally my life from age 9 to age 30 came back as I read. A list of all the books can be found here.
Even though I grew older than Alice, I still felt like I could relate to her. I still remember all those awkward moments of growing up, going through puberty, reliving high school, and of course relationships with guys. Even with this last reread of the entire series, there were times when I would put the book down because I couldn’t believe that a 16-year-old girl was experiencing the same things as a 30-year-old. To this day, when Alice experiences heartbreak, it still makes me simultaneously ache as well. One thing I love is that the books are set in Montgomery County, Maryland which is right near me! Growing up as I didn’t live in the area, most of the places meant nothing to me. But now as an adult, as I live close by, it was awesome to recognize street names, buildings, and other locations. I did get really excited when Alice was considering going to my alma mater, George Mason University, but alas it was not meant to be.
I feel a bit baffled though, that even though this series is very popular (I mean if it’s still going strong after 28 years, someone must be buying them right?), I actually haven’t found that many other fans of the books in real life or while I was book blogging. So therefore these books have been my secret for the past 21 years. I haven’t really been able to share my love of them or basically be able to geek out with anyone about them. Interestingly though, these books are always on the Banned/Challenged books list from school libraries because of their talk about sex. Honestly, what’s in these books is what kids/teens talk about in schools, so it’s not like it’s creating new ideas for them and it’s actually quite tame compared to what actually goes on in real life.
Yes I’m sad to see the series end. I feel like a chapter in my life is now finally closed and I have nothing to look forward to regarding these books anymore. I do hope though that one day, I’ll have a daughter that I can introduce these books to. And it’ll be fun to be able to reread and reminisce with her. I’m so grateful to the author for creating this wonderful series and allowing me to be able to spend my childhood, adolescence and young adult years with a character and her world that I dearly love. Alice McKinley will always be a part of me.