Thursday, January 8, 2009

Alice, I Think by Susan Juby

My first impression of this book was that it is not as uproariously funny as I had expected. But it is fast and easy to read. Alice is awesome, but some of the other characters, good and bad, (well, and Alice too) are completely unbelievable. They are painted in that black and white way of a young, budding worldview; which I suppose is the difficulty of writing a book from the singular perspective of a young, budding worldview.

The ending, for an ending, is awesome. I have trouble with endings usually, and this one I didn't. It worked really well. It was optimistic but not perfect. I love that. Alice is endearing and infuriating, but maybe I am saying that from the perspective of someone who is well beyond my teen years and looking at it as someone who would be one of her "helping professionals."

There are a couple of of truly mortifying sequences in Alice, I Think. And I don't handle mortifying well at all. The first sequence, in which she goes to the first day of first grade dressed up like a hobbit, almost made me put the book down. The problem, for me, with mortifying sequences is that it is my natural instinct to look away. Hard to read if I'm not looking at the book.

The other problem I had with this book was the comparison between Alice MacLeod and Bridget Jones, made by the Vancouver Sun in one of the blurbs printed on the back of the library copy. I couldn't help but keep picturing Renee Zellweger throughout. The truth is, I found Bridget Jones (or Zellweger as Bridget Jones) obnoxious and stupid, and irritating rather than endearing. Alice I found more endearing than irritating; although at points the only noticeable difference between the two characters was in ages. What is funny and honest for a teen is royally obnoxious and immature for an adult. What I am trying to say here is largely that I have absolutely no desire to compare the two, and wish the comparison had never occurred to me. This is not Juby's fault; authors have very little control over what gets written on their book jackets.

I did really enjoy the book. It was light and amusing, and comparatively well-written. I don't know how much patience I would have with reading a lot of chick-lit, especially chick-lit aimed at a teen audience, but I'm not going to avoid it either.

Also, I learned that I am super grateful my parents aren't burnt-out hippies, and that I am glad that I am a relatively well-adjusted human being, and was apparently a relatively well-adjusted human being as a teenager too.

I believe the next Alice book is Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last which I may or may not pick up. I don't feel a burning desire to read it, really, but I'd probably enjoy it if I did.

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