Title: Now I’ll Tell You Everything
Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Release date: 10/15/2013
Length: 512 pages
Series?: Alice #25
Genre: YA/New Adult Coming-of-Age
Source: Review copy from publisher via Edelweiss
Challenge: Feminist Reads Challenge
Now I’ll Tell You Everything (though the version I read was called Always Alice…why the title change?) is the long-awaited final chapter in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s popular Alice series. If you aren’t familiar with the series, start with my Alice 101 post. I’ve been reading Alice since both Alice and I were in middle school, so she and I have grown up together. As Naylor only wrote one book a year, and there are three books for each year of Alice’s life, I slowly started growing faster than Alice. But that didn’t mean I didn’t jump at the chance to read the final installment.
In this book, Alice grows up . The story starts with her graduation from high school and goes through age 60. Her college years take up approximately 50% of the story, and the second half of the book moves very quickly through marriage, jobs, kids, friendships, and all of the wonderful things that come with living a grown-up life. True to Alice’s style, she describes things that happen to her in ways that would satisfy her own constant questions as a curious teenager. It’s a lot (A LOT!) for one book, but Naylor made good on her promise to wrap up Alice’s story in a satisfying way.
I can’t say much more in my review, because I don’t want to give anything away. You’ve either read some/all of the other 24 Alice books and want the joy of reading it all yourself, or you haven’t read the other books and won’t understand what I’m talking about anyway (seriously — you should read these books). But I will say a few things. One: at 48%, I lost it and cried like a baby. Two: I think Naylor made Alice’s story extremely realistic, and far less after school-special-ly than some of the other novels. Three: I loved that there seemed to be a memory from every other book tossed in at some point in the story. It was a nice little walk through Alice’s earlier life, too. Four: The author’s note at the end was the perfect ending. I respect you, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Thank you for writing this series, and thank you for Alice.
FINAL GRADE: A+ This book deserves an A, I’m giving it an A. It probably already earned the A before I even opened it, but I don’t care! The series as a whole gets an A, and I make the rules. What Naylor has done with these books is create a story that grows up with readers, which is truly unique. Even when Alice is sixty she still has a piece of her eleven-year-old self inside, and I think that’s true for everyone. Reading this book as a twenty-something was a fine experience, but maybe I’ll read it when I’m sixty to reflect on my own life.
Required Reading: Required for anyone who has ever read an Alice book. Read the last book just to see what happens, or go back and read the whole series. Either way, you’ll get a lot out of this.
Library Recommendation: Recommended for middle school, high school, and public libraries. Oh…and make sure you have the whole series. All 25 books. But definitely get this one.
Do you feel like you still have your 11-year-old self somewhere inside you? What would you tell him or her now that you wish you’d known then?