The Grooming of Alice

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9780689826337: The Grooming of Alice

The first day of the summer vacation between eighth and ninth grades, Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth decide they have to get in shape. "However you look when you start ninth grade, that's how people will think of you for the next four years," says Pamela. And they all begin jogging three miles every morning.

"It's going to be the most exciting summer of our lives," Pamela says. And Alice hopes it will be. But things keep happening that no one counted on. Alice knows that she is going to be a volunteer -- with her friend Gwen -- at the hospital; but she doesn't know that along with the satisfaction of doing something useful she can also find an unexpected sorrow. And she certainly doesn't know that trying to decide alone how to handle a Pamela-emergency can be a big mistake. Pamela doesn't know that she will be spending the summer dealing with the results of her parents' separation. And Elizabeth does not know that trying to be thin -- and trying to be what everyone wants her to be -- can almost lead to disaster.

Mixed with the problems and the complications the summer brings are moments of fun, moments of learning that variety is the way of nature -- beauty comes in more than one form -- and moments when all three girls see the future in whole new ways. There are also moments of stress and change for Lester, Alice's brother, and for her father. Though nothing works out quite as planned, the end of summer does find everyone in better shape -- mentally if not physically.

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Review:

The summer between eighth and ninth grade is looming for Alice and her friends. "It's going to be one of the most exciting summers of our lives.... All the stupid things we've ever done will be behind us, and all the wonderful stuff will be waiting to happen." First things first. The girls decide it's time to get in shape. Elizabeth tells Alice her waist is a little thick and her legs are too straight. With friends like these...

They embark on a summer of discovery, with jobs, a sex-education seminar, and flirtation with an eating disorder. As Alice tests the waters of adolescence, her relationships with her father, brother, and friends are challenged. When her friend Pamela runs away from home--to Alice's house--Alice must decide where her loyalties and ethics lie. And when her father goes off to Europe, will the temptation of entertaining her boyfriend in the privacy of her home override her father's trust?

Practical, lively Alice has appeared in many of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's other popular novels: Alice in Rapture, Sort Of, Alice on the Outside, and more. Her down-to-earth charm and quintessential adolescent ways will win her friends on and off the pages of the Alice series. From start to finish, readers will identify with Alice's hilarious, poignant, energetic exploits and be moved by Alice's growing maturity.

Serious issues--body image, death, sex--are balanced delightfully with more lighthearted teens-in-summer issues--makeup, grounding, first tampon use. By September, the girls have definitely had an exciting summer, but not necessarily in the way they had anticipated! (Ages 10 to 14) --Emilie Coulter

About the Author:

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor includes many of her own growing-up experiences in the Alice books. She writes for both children and adults and is the author of more than one hundred and twenty-five books, including the Alice series, which Entertainment Weekly has called "tender" and "wonderful." In 1992 her novel Shiloh won the Newbery Medal. She lives with her husband, Rex, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is the mother of two sons, both grown and married.  Visit Phyllis online at alicemckinley.wordpress.com

Mark Elliott has a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. He has illustrated a number of book covers and his work has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Guild. Mark lives on a sheep farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

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