So, let me preface this by saying this is probably not a book you’re going to go buy at the bookstore tomorrow and read. It’s the last of a 28 book series that I started reading in 6th grade…which was 11 years ago? 12 years ago?
A long time ago.
The first book in the series was written in 1985 I believe so when I started reading them in 2001 or 2002, about half of the series was already written. The series starts with Alice McKinley at age 11, in 6th grade. Basically, it was fate that I started reading the series at that time. As I got older, I kept reading them and Alice also got older. This was partially intentional and mostly because I had the hardest time finding them at the school library, someone always had them!
The series is about Alice, a girl who is being raised by her single dad and her older brother, Lester. Her mom died when she was 5, so for all those embarrassing girl moments she has growing up she has only her dad and brother to turn to. Sometimes this is heartbreaking and sometimes it is hilarious. Either way, I remember it being so relate-able and real and feeling like Alice was a friend, not just a character in a book.
Alice has two best friends, Pamela and Elizabeth, and a boyfriend, Patrick Long. Yes, she has a boyfriend in middle school. I was jealous.
As they grow up, member of their group come in and out. High school adds Gwen to the group of best friends and brings a breakup to Alice and Patrick. They get back together and then Patrick goes to college a year early, throwing a whole new level of complication into their relationship. After Alice graduates, she, Pam, Liz, and Gwen embark on a summer adventure working on a cruise ship and Patrick moves to Spain.
Then, they get back and the last book begins…
Alice goes to the University of Maryland and makes new friends there while also keeping her best friends close. She experiences typical college stuff and finds her relationship with Patrick deteriorating. Patrick ends it and then joins the Peace Corps and a blog he updates is Alice’s only way of knowing what is happening in his life.
Alice starts dating someone, Dave, and eventually gets engaged to him. The engagement gets rocky and they break it off….just in time for Alice to run into Patrick unexpectedly at the airport as he gets back from his Peace Corps time.
At first, this upset me, it was too much like a fairy tale, but then I realized how excited I was for Alice and it was okay. Yes, I still see her as a friend, even though I’m now 23….
This is when the book hits fast forward, covering the rest of her life until 60. Alice and Patrick get engaged, married, have 2 kids, have struggles in their marriage, lose their parents, realize how lucky they are to have each other, and still manage to stay in touch with their high school friends.
The book ends when they are 60, digging up a time capsule from their 7th grade history class. The end of the book made me cry. It was emotional and sad because the series I have constantly relied on for a new read for over a decade is now over.
This is a series I’ll encourage my daughter to read, if I ever have one (which I hope I do!) and I think it’s seriously the perfect series for a girl to grow up with. If you have a daughter or niece or grandkid who is in middle school, encourage her to read this and let her grow up with the books, they are seriously so good.
Here’s the link to the website about the books!