Intensely Alice
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 23, 2009
Well, I seem to have a lot in common with my fellow reviewers for this book. I started reading the books in grade 6, and I'm 26 now. I also found the last two Alice books to be lacking; it seemed that Naylor was apparently losing her touch, and her ability to write realistically about teens.

Reading this book made me start to wonder whether *I* was losing my touch, as well. After all, I haven't been a teen for a long time now. I don't hang out with teenagers. And, increasingly, I do not understand their culture. Part of the reason I like the Alice books is that they are stuck in a bit of a time warp, likely due to the age of the author. Modern teens are a lot more technologically savvy than the teens in Alice's world. It's odd to read a book about teenagers that never mentions a single current TV show (though this might be a deliberate choice on the part of Naylor, to keep the books from aging too quickly), a single current website like Facebook or MySpace that all the teens use nowadays, or a single current gadget, like an iPod. These things are so ubiquitous among teens nowadays that it's simply odd to see any mention of them left out. Still, I must admit that the omission of these things lessens the gap between myself and these fictional teens. They don't seem as alien to me as actual teenagers increasingly do.

But try as I might, I cannot shake the feeling that the author has a personal checklist of "hot topics" that she simply MUST deal with before the Alice books have concluded. We already hit teen pregnancy, divorce, suicide, domestic abuse, cancer, marriage and remarriage, infidelity and drunk driving. This book gives us religion and the sudden death/life is fragile combo. One thing I do not have in common with my fellow reviewers is that I saw this death coming miles away, because it was so heavily foreshadowed. Maybe I've just read too many other books, but the fact is that Naylor's reliance on formula made it easy to see which character she'd marked for death. Even if the book jacket hadn't specifically said that someone would die, I would have known immediately that SOMETHING BAD was about to happen.

I just fear that in Naylor's quest to make Alice into "every girl" so that girls of all ages can identify with her life and her struggles, she sometimes forgets to include particular things that are just plain Alice. In the most recent books, Alice has seemed less like the unique character I wanted to keep reading about back in grade school and more like a blank piece of paper filled with check-boxes next to "modern teen" experiences. Her friends and family are steadily getting a little flatter too.

The one thing that keeps Alice from being completely blank and lifeless, and keeps her more her own person and her own character instead of just a witness to the formulaic things that are happening around her is her relationship with Patrick. That has always been the most genuine thing about these books, and I am happy to say that the same is true here. Patrick makes his first big appearance in several years, and we get a glimpse of his college life as he shares one day of it with Alice. One day, and one magical night. I enjoyed these sections of the book so much that for a few moments I forgot that the characters haven't grown up as fast as I have, and actually found myself rooting for them go even farther. After all, they've been dating for 15 years!

I'm with Naylor -- and Alice -- till the end, no matter what happens. In fact, I find myself kind of hoping Naylor will take her into college or something, and just keep writing Alice books for the rest of her life. But I know that it has to end soon. I just hope that the last few books will feel more natural and less forced into a preconceived idea of what an average teen's life is supposed to be. I hope that in the last few books, Alice finally gets to step forward into adulthood with a distinct personality all her own, no longer just a player in other people's dramas. I hope Naylor won't let me down. I have spent more years of my life on this series than any other -- more than Harry Potter, more than Lemony Snicket -- Alice has been a part of my life longer than any other fictional character, and I had no idea until I finished this book (and this review!) how much she means to me. I don't want her to go quietly into that good night.

This book was okay. But I really hope that the final few are SPECTACULAR.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2009
I have been reading the Alice books since I was a twelve-year old middle schooler, and am now a 21-year old college student. I must say, after the disappointment of the previous book, this one seemed to be going back on track to what attracted me to the Alice series in the first place--the funny and sometimes awkward moments, humorous and delightful character interactions, and most of all, the friendship of Alice and Pamela and Elizabeth. (The review may contain slight spoilers, though I tried careful not to mention anything you would rather read yourself).

The book starts off bringing Alice and most of the gang back together at the Stedmeister's pool, and it was great seeing Alice interact more with other members of the gang such as Mark, Keeno, and Justin rather than have them serve as background characters with a couple of lines per story. The humorous quips and dialogues between the friends seemed natural and easygoing, making Alice seem more like the teenager she is rather than the middle-age high schooler she had been emulating in the past couple of books. The cemetary scene made me chuckle, and brought back memories of my own silly exploits at the cemetary as a teen with my friends. Carol's bachelorette party was kind of raunchy fun, but in a typical-of-every-modern-day-bachelorette-party-out-there, and Aunt Sally's speech had me laughing and cringing at the same time. Thankfully, that section was short and not too detailed because I really couldn't wait for the next part, which was Alice visitiing Patrick at the University of Chicago, who has been glaringly MIA for the past few books (except for the forgettable prom). Naylor's description of college-life was very refreshing, and I was quite pleased with her detailing certain aspects of college life that are important, and was amused that she even included the term "sexiled" (which is a funny, but important part of college dorm life). I won't spoil what happens between Alice and Patrick, but I was very glad to see them interact together some more and go further than just kisses, which they have been doing since, oh, the sixth grade. I was glad to see them take the physical part of their relationship up a level. Also, it was nice seeing Alice and her friends volunteer at a soup kitchen, and the entertainment provided by Mark and Keeno before and after was hilarious. However, the event that happens in the end shocked me, as I did not see it coming, and almost made me cry in the bookstore. A death of a friend shakes up Alice and the gang in a way none of them expected, and the level of grief and tears had my heart aching for these fictional characters for a while after putting the book down. I will not lie--I did not see this coming, even though the description does say a person will die. The last part of the book was full of shock and grief (which was excellently written), and anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close to them could relate to the pain of Alice and her friends.

Naylor does well in this latest installment of the Alice series. She has Alice deal with the daily trials of a teen, such as working, thinking about sex, planning for school, and even has her analyzing her own faith and what she believes in. The book does not get preachy, but details different sides of people's personal beliefs and religion, and I believe the conclusion Alice comes to the end of the book is going to continue to be dealt with in the next Alice book. The only complaint I really have about this book is how Naylor still continues to *tell* rather than describe situations. Also, I feel confused about Alice and Patrick's relationship. So they are officially a couple again? Then why haven't they discussed doing a long-distance relationship? Wouldn't they be planning the next time they can see each other? And I felt the whole dilemma of them worrying where Alice was going to sleep was excessive--first off, many people in the dorms don't mind if their roommate brings a friend or girl/boyfriend to visit. I'm sure Alice could have snuggled with Patrick in his bed and his roommate would have been fine with it. The single beds could fit two people on it (rather tightly), we've all done it several times freshman year.

The ending was well-written and very believable, and one of the best scences Naylor has written. This was a more enjoyable book than the last few, and I'll look forward to the next one in the series, like I have every year since I was thirteen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2009
(warning: potential spoilers)

Like another review said, I've been reading the Alice series since middle school, although I'm now almost 30 years old and still can't wait for the newest book each year. I was disappointed with the past few books in the series - Naylor had lost her touch for tapping into realistic teen dialogue and situations - but this book was definitely several steps up. I appreciated the girls' friends becoming more "round" characters, and enjoyed the realistic interactions between Alice and Patrick. (Although I do agree with the other review - the odds that Patrick *wouldn't* have realized that Alice would prefer to share his bed, seem pretty slim!) The ending did make me cry and was a pretty big surprise to me; I had read that there would be a death but was expecting it to be an older relative, or maybe even Molly.

My one complaint isn't related to the book, but to the Amazon page for this book; when I purchased it earlier this week, I naturally read the book description and critical review, not expecting spoilers in the critical review! It sort of ruined the suspense of Alice's visit to Patrick. I hate inadvertently running into spoilers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2009
I've been a huge fan of the Alice books since fourth grade (I'm now nearing 26) -- I even tracked down Naylor's phone number back then so I could call her and tell her how much I loved them!

This book follows in true Alice form, covering hot topics like sudden death, religion, and sex. Naylor also has an uncanny ability to freak me out by including details that seemed to be pulled from my life -- like how Patrick attends the University of Chicago, lives in Max Palevsky, is a brainiac whose ambition I can't relate to, and is also a redhead; my younger brother (who my parents almost named Patrick!) is and did all of the above! He even had a "high school sweetheart" like Alice. I was also features editor of my high school paper. I'm always calling Mom at odd hours when I read the Alice books to share these fun details with her. (Sorry, Mom!)

However, like other reviewers have said, I too notice that Naylor is growing out of touch. The main thing that sticks out is the dialogue. Once, I made marks and notes on an excerpt that I wanted to send to Naylor or Simon & Schuster, hoping they might hire me on as an assistant editor of some sort, but I lost my nerve! On the other hand, one of the things I've always loved about Alice is that her character IS slightly out of touch. I love that she's an every-girl, and that the Alice books aren't all about modern fads and trends (if I wanted that, I could read 90% of what else is out there for teens right now, i.e. Gossip Girl). I take comfort in things like the Melody Inn and its "Chopin Liszt"s. I think Alice was a great role model for me, as she is tolerant, questioning, goofy and imperfect, and in doing things like volunteering at soup kitchens, I hope she can inspire other teens to do good for their communities, too.

I'm rating Intensely Alice three stars mainly because there are so many Alice books closer to my heart, but it's still a worthy addition to the series, and definitely worth reading!

To sum it up, I've always felt like I could relate to Alice and her experiences. Honestly, Alice McKinley to me is like the best Judy Blume character that Judy Blume never wrote, and Naylor was to me what Blume was to many girls my age. I've grown up with Alice, and I'll keep reading until Naylor stops writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Phylis Reynolds Naylor has been writing about Alice since 1988 when I was in junior high and I have been keeping up with her ever since. Alice has come a long way since 5th grade; in Intensely Alice (24th edition), we see her during the summer between her junior and senior years of high school. In a busy summer, she is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding (complete with bachelorette party). She visits her boyfriend at his new university. The whole gang volunteers at a homeless feeding kitchen. Her brother asks her to house-sit for a week with her friends. She continues her summer job and looks forward to being an editor of the school newspaper in the fall. A tragedy ends her summer and causes her to contemplate questions of God and faith.

I like following Alice. This edition felt, even with the tragedy, felt a little sparse for material (maybe somewhat like how summers feel for teens). While some events were given in too much detail (trip to visit Patrick and some of the interactions with friends), I would have liked more detail on the tragic events at the end and how Alice learned to deal with them. The idea of "the problem of suffering" was glossed over with no real depth (the religious characters all sounded silly). Overall a fun read.
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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2014
As usual, Alice's world is full of activity. Now, it's the summer before senior year, which she's long awaited with eagerness, but that's partly tinged with sadness as Alice's longtime boyfriend Patrick chose to graduate in three years and is already halfway across the country taking summer college courses at the University of Chicago.

Luckily, Alice is originally from Chicago, and coincidentally her cousin Carol is getting married. So while she's spending a few days back in the city for the wedding, Alice plans to visit Patrick on campus.

Part of her can't wait, of course. But another part is nervous. Despite their emotional closeness, Alice and Patrick have never had sex. Alice isn't sure what will happen when she's staying in Patrick's dorm...what Patrick wants or expects, or what she herself wants or expects. Is this the right time - and person - to lose her virginity? What happens if they do it and something goes wrong between them? Or, what happens if they don't and there won't be another opportunity for a long time?

Meanwhile, Alice's friend Gwen suggests they and their friends spend a week volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Overall, it's an eye-opening experience for the middle-class Alice, who comes from a caring home with a father and stepmother who have always tried their best to ensure she never lacked. But the most intriguing issue Alice encounters is that of religion. A fellow teen volunteer, Shelley, is a born-again Christian, passionate about her beliefs (and rather disparaging of others'), though she isn't really able to provide any reasons for her beliefs other than she "knows she's right." As one might imagine, Shelley manages to get quite some heated discussions among the others, particularly an atheist named Mavis.

As with many other issues in her life, Alice finds herself in the middle, mulling both Shelley's and Mavis' views while trying to figure out her own beliefs. She figures she has time to make discoveries...until a tragedy forces Alice to test her beliefs almost immediately.

As always, Naylor writes Alice's voice honestly and like that of an actual teenage girl. While Alice is a good, solidW girl, making good grades and taking part in many activities at school, doing her part at home with family, engaging with a longtime group of caring friends, she IS also a healthy, normal girl, heading toward adulthood, and it's only natural that she's struggling with the decisions of growing up.
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I first started reading the Alice series in 4th or 5th grade. I have grown up with these books and have loved each and every one of them. Intensely Alice starts off with Alice and her friends just wanting to do something for the summer. She sees that her family have already made plans for themselves and decides that she is going to go to Chicago and visit her boyfriend Patrick at his college dorm. Meanwhile, the gang meets up at Mark Stedmeister's pool, like they've done every year, since middle school. One of the first things I've noticed about this book, was the character interaction and I got to know the characters better.

Alice gets a called from her cousin Carol and is asked to be a bridesmaid at her wedding -in Chicago- after one of the original bridesmaid pregnancy takes toll. Alice still doesn't know where she'll be sleeping when she visits Patrick, so she packs "things" she might need for the visit. In Chicago, her cousin takes her and the other bridesmaid to a fun bachelorette party and prepare for the wedding. This part of the book brought back memories from the other books and I remembered all the things Alice and her older cousin have shared over the years and how Alice looked up to her for advice, since her own mother was dead. The wedding turned out to be great and Alice is finally able to go see her boyfriend Patrick at the university.

Alice and Patrick remain to be my favorite couple in the series and I absolutely loved the parts of them in this book. I don't want to give away any spoilers but their relationship grows a lot more in this book. Once Alice gets back home, her and her friends volunteer at a soup kitchen. Now, one thing I didn't expect to read in this book was about religion and spirituality. After volunteering at the soup kitchen, she contemplates a lot about her faith and is her faith in God is tested in a huge way after a death. The death took me by surprise, it had me in tears. I thought this book was really good and the ending was phenomenal.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 7, 2009
I think I started reading the Alice books about ten years ago and I've really enjoyed them (I think my favorite is Alice In-Between, where they go to Chicago) and I even got my sister to read them (she likes Alice in Lace due to the abundance of Patrick and Alice). I was younger than Alice but now am quite bit older (it's the summer before her senior year in high school in this book).

So I was very excited to read the next installment but this one unfortunately left me feeling...meh. I don't think that's a word but that's how I felt. It wasn't a difficult read and I did want to know what was going on for Alice but there was nothing exactly exciting.

First is Carol's wedding and Alice getting to be with Patrick. I really like Carol and I've always been a fan of Alice/Patrick so I liked these scenes. Then there is the summer hanging out with Liz, Pamela, and Gwen. And in the end, one of her friends dies. This was sad but it didn't have that much of an impact on me.

Overall: I would call this just average and I may have lifted the grade a bit higher than I really felt due to my fondness for the characters. I will probably still continue to read the Alice books but I really hope they improve. I would rate this 2.5 but I bumped it up to 3 due to Amazon's system.
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on August 13, 2009
I have been reading Alice books since Mrs. Naylor came out with the Agony of Alice 20 years ago. This installment in the life of Alice McKinley did not disappoint me.

Alice and the gang do not really have much planned for the summer between their junior and senior year of high school, but some experiences that they go through make them grow up really fast.

Alice goes to Chicago for her cousins wedding and meets up with Patrick. She wants the meeting to be special and they experience something very adult.

Afterwords Alice and the gang help out in a soup kitchen and get into some philosophical issues about God and religion with one of the other people volunteering.

Then Alice Liz Pam and another of their friends stay over at Lester's house while he is off bike riding in Utah when something unexpected happens that changes everything.

This book is probably more grown up than some of the other books in the Alice series and has explicate language and situations that might not be appropriate for younger Alice fans, over all a very good book though.
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All of the "Alice" books are always a delight! This series should be on every pre-teen and teen's "must read" list. PRNaylor writes about girls in such a knowledgeable and straight-forward manner, and covers all the big things (and little things) that girls wonder about and can experience through Alice, and then make up their own minds. She presents situations which all girls face, and then presents solutions which may, or may not, fit what one might do, but are always in keeping with the characters involved. I discovered this series by accident (I am a grandmother of 4), and when I started my oldest granddaughter on this series, she said to me, "Grandma, Alice is my best friend!!" and I knew what she meant exactly. Should be on the shelves of every Middle and High School Library!!!
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