Alice, I Think
by Susan Juby
Rating: 1 star
Opening Statement: YECH!
I am a homeschooling mother of two children. I was interested in the book because the main character is a teen girl transitioning to public high school. A fellow homeschooling mother who thought it was hilarious recommended it to me. I read this book to myself and hated it. I was digusted by the negativity of the main character and could not find humor in it. Before you have your young adult child read this please note the content.
It needs to be underscored that this book does not treat homeschoolers in a positive light. In fact the author must not have known anything about homeschooling because I have never heard of a homeschooling family like this one. The other homeschoolers she briefly mentions are strange and not the norm for homeschooling families.
The girl has been raised as a homeschooler all her life (not counting a few days in 1st grade) and she has NO friends of either gender, never has and still doesn’t at age 15! How is this possible? She does not have a close relationship with her sibling (brother, younger) who goes to school. You’d think they’d be closer as she has no one to talk to, literally. Nor does she have a close relationship with her parents. In fact she hates her parents and puts them down throughout the whole book. Her mother is portrayed as a weird hippie who works in a new age bookstore, and her father as a loser, who tries to write books in his basement, who drinks too much with his buddies and makes a fool of himself. Every adult in the book is spoken about in a patronizing manner and looked down upon by the main character. There is not one single person this girl likes or looks up to.
She also seems to barely be able to read as she sets a goal for herself: to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and can barely get past the preface due to her inability to comprehend the story. I'd like to think that a homeschooler can at least read by the time they are 15! She also balks at the idea of setting goals and priorities for herself, as if she has never thought about it before (which is strange for a homeschooler who is plotting her own path in life). There is no mention to what she does know or what she does like in life, it seems her brain is an empty vacuum.
The book has many sexual references. Her fathers’ homosexual friend is portrayed in a negative light and his homosexuality is discussed. Another homosexual that she goes to see to get a new haircut is portrayed in a horrible light, drinking alcohol in the morning in the hair salon and being over an hour late for her appt. due to a hangover from last nights' partying. There are a few pages dedicated to her first Internet experience, which she chooses to cruise porn sites and there is detailed description of what she finds on the Internet. There is a lot of discussion of people putting objects into their anus for pleasure then needing emergency surgery-medical treatment. The other sexual reference is when she sets a goal to explore sexual encounters with boys. When she meets a boy for the first time she forces herself upon him. He is not happy about it and the encounter gets “to third base” before their parents find them and stop them.
I could go on and on with what I didn't like about it. Overall I hated her attitude and her anger at the world, and for what reason?
Another pathetic part is that she is bullied in a horrible way before she even enters school, and has negative experiences when she enters school with bullying-physically being beaten up. She never stands up for herself nor does she allow adults to help her from repeated victimization.
Yech, I say, to this book!
Also I see the publisher slates this as "young adult" reading. When I was a teen in the 80s the young adult books didn't contain sex and drug and alcohol references like this! Is this what is happening in the “young adult fiction” genre? If so, we are in trouble. Remember: garbage in, garbage out applies not only to programming computers but also to developing people’s minds!