Changed My Life

 I have just finished the final Alice book and I feel kind of numb. I spent so much time reading and rereading these books since I was around 8 years old–age 20 now–that I feel like I’ve almost lost a dear friend. I will never get to read a new Alice book again. I think I may actually cry!
  The final book had me in tears several times, but also had me laughing until my face hurt. I guess the greatest paradox is that Alice’s youth, ages 8 to 18, took thirty years to unfold, and the next forty years flew by in the 16 hours it took me to read the last book thoroughly. I was completely shocked that she married Patrick, and a little jealous–because who among us isn’t in love with Patrick?–and also because I feel like nothing in my life will ever work out quite so perfectly. And I feel as if I’ve aged a few decades overnight as well–it’s really been the strangest day, having to wake up and go to classes when I breezed through Alice’s college years in just a few hours.
  I have waited for this moment for so long, but now I almost wish it had never come, because now I have no more new Alice to look forward to. I just wanted to write to you to commend you for taking on an incredible task. I can imagine that it’s extremely emotionally difficult for you to face this moment, though it is exciting to be able to devote more time to life has paused for the past day since the book came out, and I am totally absorbed in Alice. I feel lonesome in the strangest way, missing a friend who never, amazingly, existed in the physical world–but so grateful to have had this literary companionship for the majority of my life in this fine character and wonderful series. Thank you so much for giving this gift to a worldful of young girls and readers of every type. It takes an amazingly gifted writer to put a reader in the half-profound, half-stupefied state I’m in right now. I just feel afraid that my life is going to spin ahead of me as fast as the book did! It’s an existential crisis, really. Alice is comfort. Alice is childhood. Alice suspends time and brings me back to a different time in my life. I am a little girl again when I read these books. I am sorry to ramble on in such a disjointed way but I felt the need to write to you immediately after finishing the book; I knew I could think about nothing else I did. What you have given me has changed my life. Thank you, Phyllis. Thank you so much.
Phyllis replied:
I had a difficult time getting your entire letter on the screen, and had to do it in sections.  My computer ability is in the lowest percentile range, but I hope your email is all there.   Writing the Alice books took me back to my childhood too, and those embarrassing junior high years, then high school, college…..Reviewers have blamed me for squeezing too much into the last book, for not telling enough, but in the end, it can only be Alice’s story as she would tell it, and that’s the way I heard it in my head.  I’m grateful to so many readers who have felt that it was “just right.”

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