This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.
I hadn't read an Alice story in awhile, so I was happy to pick up this one. Alice is getting ready to be a high school junior, and finds herself immersed in a busy, active life, though without as much family as she wishes she had around her. A new job gives her a chance to see how the working world works, and Alice is excited that her twenty-four year old brother is confiding in her a little. He's even invited her over to dinner while his girlfriend is there. Alice is spinning sugar-plum fancies about the wedding that she is sure will come between her brother and his "woman of color," which she is so fond of saying -- and thinking about. Alice's random black/white wedding plans come crashing down around her when the "woman of color" says no. The fianceé is quickly taken out of the picture, so readers never find out why the girl was dating her brother when her family would have been so upset had she married him. Since Alice is the type of girl who would've asked, I found this lack of information intriguing. Is Naylor saying that this is the type of questions that girls are not supposed to ask?
A period that begins in public, a friend contracting leukemia, being stalked by drunks, and being mortified by an email prank are the things that make up Alice's busy summer. In the end, Alice finally gets her fill of family, but it certainly doesn't happen in the way that she had dreamed it would, as they are brought close again by acatastrophicc illness. Alice lives and learns as always, leaving her readers better informed as well as entertained.
These little slice-of-life vignettes are priceless, as young adult readers can easily put themselves into the place of the characters and feel the feelings right along with them, inwardly determining what they will and will never get themselves into. Alice is a great character to learn from, as always, and Naylor keeps the lessons brief and light and not too cautionary.
Twenty-one books into the series, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice is still the same average, funny, quirky girl-next-door. Because this is the twenty-first book, however, there were myriad references to people and places that I wasn't really up on. While it's not necessary to have read all twenty previous books in the series, I did not find Alice in the Know to be particularly engaging as a stand-alone novel, however, this book alone was pleasantly diverting enough to encourage readers to go back and pick up a few more of this incredible series and get back up to speed.