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Literature / Alice Series

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Alice is always Alice.

"What I'm finding out about growing older is that there are just as many rules about lots of things, but there's nobody watching.”."
Alice McKinley, on growing up in Alice In Rapture, Sort of.

The Alice Series is a Coming of Age book series written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. There are three prequels to this series. The first one, Starting with Alice, describes Alice in third grade. Alice in Blunder land is Alice in fourth grade; The final prequel, Lovingly Alice, follows Alice through the troubles of fifth grade. The first book (after the prequels) is The Agony of Alice.

The Alice series follows the main character, Alice McKinley, known as "Al" to her father and older brother as she grows up in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her mother died of leukemia when Alice was five. Alice has a hard time at first growing up in an all-male household, but her father and her brother, Lester, prove to be honest and open about almost everything Alice talks about. Alice has very little memory of her mother, often confusing her with her aunt, and seems to bear a striking physical resemblance to her, especially her strawberry-blond hair.


Other characters include Alice's three best friends, Pamela, Elizabeth and Gwen, her first serious boyfriend, Patrick, her next boyfriend, Sam, her prudish Aunt Sally (who frequently provides a little comic relief), Lester's many girlfriends, and her seventh grade Language Arts teacher, Miss Summers, whom she tries to get her father to marry (with eventual success). The Alice series broaches many topics, including relationships, dating, sex, friendship, life problems, families, God, and understanding.


The books in the long running series include:

  • The Agony of Alice
  • Alice in Rapture, Sort of
  • Reluctantly Alice
  • All but Alice
  • Alice in April
  • Alice In-Between
  • Alice the Brave
  • Alice in Lace
  • Outrageously Alice
  • Achingly Alice
  • Alice on the Outside
  • The Grooming of Alice
  • Alice Alone
  • Simply Alice
  • Patiently Alice
  • Including Alice
  • Alice on Her Way
  • Alice in the Know
  • Dangerously Alice
  • Almost Alice
  • Intensely Alice
  • Alice in Charge
  • Incredibly Alice
  • Alice on Board
  • Now I'll Tell You Everything

Not to be confused with Go Ask Alice, the 1971 novel by Beatrice Sparks.

This Series Provides Examples Of:

  • Bratty Teenage Daughter:
    • Both Alice and Elizabeth also go through some sort of a rebellious phase with their parents that isolate them from the rest of her families.
  • Bumbling Dad: Ben to some extent, usually whenever he has educate Alice over topics regarding the female body.
  • Buxom Is Better: Pamela apparently has the largest bust size among the girls, while Elizabeth is dealing with A-Cup Angst and Alice is somewhere in the middle.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Lester, who goes through women at the drop of a hat and often finds himself involved in messy love triangles.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Ben himself appears to be quite the ladies man, attracting the attention of several women throughout the series, including Janice Sherman and Sylvia.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Brian and occasionally Mark.
  • The Confidant: Alice to her friends, which is even lampshaded by several characters in the series, particularly in Almost Alice.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Pamela gets pregnant in high school but miscarries before she decides what she's going to do about it.
  • The Cutie: Alice, although mostly in the earlier books. She tries, unsuccessfully, to shed this image in Dangerously Alice.
  • Dance of Romance: They'd dated before but Alice's dance with her ex-boyfriend Patrick at her father's wedding is when she begins to realize she still has feelings for him.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Marilyn ends up marrying another man once she finally decides to move on from Lester.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Pamela's parents divorce at one point after her father discovers her mother having an affair, which wedges a significant rift among her family.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Sam to Alice, who eventually felt mollycoddled by him.
  • Their First Time: Alice often debates whether or not she wants to sleep with Patrick before he goes off to college in the later books.
  • First Girl Wins: Alice ends up marrying Patrick, her first love interest in the original series. He's even the first guy she meets who she's not related to.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Alice in Lace," Alice's teacher assigns his students real life situations and they have to write about how they would deal with them. Several of those things actually ended happening: Alice and Patrick getting married, Pamela getting pregnant, Brian getting a DWI.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Elizabeth is the quiet, somewhat naïve girl who's self-conscious about her body, Pamela's the sensual, promiscuous one, Gwen is the group's snarky, intelligent overachiever, and Alice's is the narrator and open-minded Team Mom.
  • Freudian Excuse: Pamela, who maintains a distant relationship with her mother after she and her father divorce.
  • Genki Girl: Pamela, a cheerful, outgoing blonde and Loretta, the Fiery Redhead who works at Alice's father's music store.
  • Good Bad Girl:
    • Pamela Jones, another best friend of Alice's, and arguably the most sensual
    • Jill, who's mentioned to be sleeping around with Justin, Elizabeth's former crush.
  • Good with Numbers: Gwen, who tutors Alice in Algebra at one point during the 8th grade.
  • Gossipy Hens: Jill and Karen, two of Alice's girlfriends.
  • Happily Married: Ben and Sylvia.
    • In the final book, practically all the main characters, including the four main girls except for Pamela who seems quite happy to be single or dating someone on the side for most of the book's time, until towards the end where she finally got married at a rather late age to an old sailor.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Alice is smitten with her longtime boyfriend Patrick, an intelligent, overachieving redhead.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Alice and Patrick, Lori and Leslie, Justin and Jill
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Alice mentions repeatedly that she can't carry a tune and never has been.
  • Hormone Addled Teenagers: Alice and her friends, the source of controversy with many parents.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: the main focus of Starting with Alice and The Agony of Alice, the first novel officially published in the Alice series.
  • Important Haircut: Pamela receives one after she gets gum stuck in her hair, which forces her to get a short pixie cut that symbolizes her sudden "newfound maturity".
  • Incompatible Orientation: Alice and Lori, a lesbian whom develops a crush on Alice.
  • The Ingenue: Demure, conservative Elizabeth Price, who's apprehensive toward all matters regarding sex.
  • Jerks with Hearts of Gold: Brian and Mark.
  • Killed Off for Real: Mark, The Heart of the gang becomes involved in a tragic car accident that takes his life, which leaves a massive impact on the remaining characters.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Alice, who once even had a kitten named Oatmeal.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Marilyn Rawley was the light feminine to Crystal Harkins' dark.
    • Elizabeth is the light to Pamela's dark.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Mark.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Pamela in the first few Alice books, although this character trait seems to fade away as she becomes more of the Good Bad Girl.
  • Meet Cute: Alice and Patrick first met at a Sears store when Alice accidentally opens the wrong door and sees Patrick in his underwear.
  • Missing Child:
    • Alice puts her father through this in Dangerously Alice. She goes out for the evening, but is not home by 11 PM. Unbeknownst to her father, she went to a party with some friends after eating, but a car accident occurs nearby and the police gets involved, with interrogations taking up to 1 AM and only then her father is informed of what happened.
    • Alice is on the receiving end of this when her own son is out for the evening, but doesn't contact her. And then gets a call from the police about her son. He's fine, just attempted to push a rolling car up a hill with his friends.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Alice tends to jump to conclusions and thinks Sylvia does this a few times. She's wrong on all accounts.
  • My Beloved Smother / Overprotective Dad: Elizabeth has a pair of these.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Alice, in spades, who's naïve and trusting to a fault and struggles with femininity through the absence of her mother. Reynolds herself mentioned that she intended Alice to be relatable to every girl out there and serve as a "best friend" of sorts to female teens.
    • Elizabeth somewhat fits this to an extent as well, being awkward in terms of accepting her body.
  • My Hair Came Out Green: played straight in Outrageously Alice.
  • Nice Guy: Ben, Alice's father. Patrick also qualifies as Alice's Understanding Boyfriend.
  • Only Sane Man / Team Mom: Alice can occasionally be this to her friends.
  • The Philosopher: Lester changes his major to philosophy later in the series.
  • The Pig-Pen: Sarah, Alice's poverty-stricken friend back in Takoma Park.
  • Papa Wolf: Ben to Alice and Lester.
  • Perky Goth: Molly, a high school friend of Alice's who is later diagnosed with leukemia.
  • Plucky Girl: Alice.
  • Popular Is Dumb: Alice refers to a group of popular boys as the "Three Handsome Stooges" in All but Alice.
  • Quirky Curls: Loretta Jenkins.
  • Raised by Dudes: Alice, considering her mother passed away.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Elizabeth, who is considered rather attractive because of this.
  • Retcon: the books series was first launched in the mid 1980s and has since had been added to sporadically for the past two decades, which makes exactly what time period the Alice books take place ambiguous. In Agony of Alice, some of the things mentioned make it clear that it does take place around 1980 - 1990, where as the series continued, newer things such as Facebook, Twitter and similar were frequently mentioned.
    • Later editions of the books changed some of the references in attempt to modernize. For example in the original books the girls compared their attractive teacher, Mr. Everett, to Robert Redford, while the 2011 re-release changed it to Brad Pitt as most young teens in the 2010's likely wouldn't know who the former was.
  • Ridiculously Average Girl: Alice often feels this way, especially by comparison to Elizabeth and Pamela.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: Alice becomes one during her high school years once she becomes involved with the newspaper staff.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Elizabeth, many, many times.
  • Sexy Priest: Alice's gorgeous coworker at her father's store eventually decides to become a priest. Her friends point out what a waste that is.
  • She's Got Legs: Gwen, according to Alice and her friends.
  • Shipper on Deck: Alice for her father and Sylvia ( she gets her wish) and Lester and Marilyn ( she doesn't.)
  • Ship Sinking: Lester and Marilyn when she marries another man.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Loretta, who gets pregnant after a one night stand.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Alice, the series protagonist, whom is mentioned as having strawberry-blonde hair and green eyes, with an uncanny resemblance to her mother.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Pamela throughout the series, during the field trip in their sophomore year, she gives a senior she's smitten with a blowjob.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Alice is often remarked as being the spitting image of her mother, so much that her Alzheimer's-stricken grandfather mistakes her for Marie during a family reunion.
    • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Alice is said to look very much like her mother, have similar values, though their characters were different. Alice also gets cancer, just like her mother did, but because medicine has advanced over the years, she managed to be perfectly cured. Eventually, Alice's daughter is described as looking and acting a lot like Alice did at her age.
  • Teen Genius: Gwen, an Ace who tutors Alice in Algebra, easily enrolls in several college-level courses while still a high school student, and aspires to be a doctor.
    • Patrick Long, Alice's longtime boyfriend, who enrolls himself in an accelerated program that allows him to graduate a year earlier than the rest and gets accepted into a prestigious university in Chicago, despite deciding to spend a year studying abroad in Spain.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Pamela gets pregnant in her junior year, although she later has a Convenient Miscarriage.
  • The Quiet One: Alice's Dad, who is described as being "the shy type" of person.
    • Elizabeth is occasionally seen as this among her group of friends.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Gwen Wheeler.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Alice often considers herself rather plain by comparison to most of her girlfriends, but can be quite stunning whenever she chooses to work with her appearance.
  • Shrinking Violet: Elizabeth often becomes this around boys, although she loosens up as the series goes on.
  • The Smart Guy: Patrick.
  • Those Two Girls: Jill and Karen.
  • Tomboyish Nickname: Al.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Scott, a temporary Love Interest of Alice's.
  • True Companions: Alice, Pamela, Elizabeth, and Gwen.
  • Unlucky Everydude: Lester.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Alice and Penny, who she never quite forgave for having temporarily broken her and Patrick up.
    • Alice and Pamela in the first two books.
  • Weight Woe: Elizabeth becomes anorexic the summer before her freshman year.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Several characters are never mentioned in the final book, like Molly who was last mentioned to be cured from her leukemia and having a Pakistani boyfriend. Naylor says that Molly ended up doing fine.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Ben and Sylvia. They Do.
  • Wise Beyond Her Years: Alice.
  • You Go, Girl!: Alice often proves to be rather outspoken regarding certain topics and willingly defends her friend Lori's homosexuality once she and her love interest are taunted in the girl's locker-room.
  • Youthful Freckles: Alice.