________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 16. . . . April 11, 2003

cover Alice, I Think.

Susan Juby.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2003.
244 pp., pbk., $15.99.
ISBN 0-00-639287-3.

Subject Headings:
Coming of age-Fiction.
Family life-British Columbia-Fiction.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 & up.

Review by Jocelyn A. Dimm.

**** /4


August 3

I spent all morning trying out my new look. It certainly is radical.

Colorwise, at least, I think I look pretty good in my orange tank top and red-and-blue checkered stretch pants. The green vest would probably look better over a turtleneck or at least something with sleeves, but I want to wear as much of my new stuff as possible.

My hair still looks really bad. I washed it and let it dry naturally, but it is still lumpy and uneven. There are huge chunks missing here and there that just look like mistakes instead of the radical hairdo I was hoping for. I would like to get my hair fixed, but I would have to get my head shaved to even it out.

I tried out wearing barrettes at the front like Frank, but there really isn't enough hair to hold them properly, so I put a few clips on the lump at the top of my head to try and hold it down. Maybe I would look better with my eyebrows plucked all thin and arched like Frank's. I won't get Irma to do it though. She'd have me looking like an especially ugly extra on Star Trek.

Alice, I Think, by Susan Juby, was first published in 2000 by Thistledown Press. HarperCollins are re-releasing this novel and publishing a second entitled Miss Smithers, with still a third to follow. Many have referred to this book as a Bridget Jones Diary for teenagers, much in the same way comments were made about the English teen novel, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison (who has already completed a fourth book in that series). These two young adult books have more in common than their publishers; both are a laugh riot of the misadventures of teen girls with chaotic lives full of chaotic people.

     Alice, I Think is the story of Alice Macleod, a 15-year-old girl, whose home schooling has been more of an experiment of how to cope with your "granola hippy" parents than a expedition through "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic." This coming-of-age story finds Alice looking to re-enter high school with the help of her new therapist, "Death Lord Bob," and a bizarre, often experimental, Life Goal list. If Alice can survive being on the hit list of the school bully (a rage challenged girl named Linda), and a mother who seems to take on all the causes embraced by her Folk Festival friends, Alice might just make it. Having a very smart and very calm 10-year-old brother, who breeds award-winning fish, doesn't hurt either. There are so many extraordinary events and characters consuming every waking hour of Alice's life, readers will find themselves on a roller-coaster ride with Alice as she attempts to create an identity for herself in the small town of Smithers, BC. where it seems, anything can happen.

     What do you do when you have received possibly the worst haircut ever given out on the planet Earth? And while trying to deal with that misfortune, your mother is in the parking lot of the mall having a no-holds-barred brawl with the school bully that wants to kill you?

     There are over two hundred pages of Alice's bizarro-world encounters. This book is written as a romp, in sentence fragments captured within the pages of a 15-year-old girl's diary. The adults in this novel are as mixed up and messed up as the teens, but, because the book begins as a wild and crazy ride through Alice's eyes, it stays true to that authentic voice until the very end. The book deals with teen issues on a very honest level, including bullying, personal identity, and dating - from a very alternative teenage girl's perspective.

Highly Recommended.

Jocelyn A. Dimm is a doctoral student and sessional instructor at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.


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ISSN 1201-9364