A Troubling Sentence

Like most of the other girls who I have seen notes from posted on your website, I too grew up with Alice. I found her on the shelf in my dusty, cramped, school library in 6th grade, and we hit it off like best friends. Every few months, I would excitedly check the website to find the most recent updates about the upcoming books. I, now 22, just finished “Now I’ll Tell You Everything”, and was embarrassed that I teared up more than once while thumbing through the pages. I loved the book, and the entire Alice series, and I thank you for giving myself, and girls everywhere, a friend to turn to.

One line of the book did trouble me, though, just one line that stuck in my head for the rest of the book, as I knew that I needed to contact you about it. In the copy of the book that I have, it is found on page 96, in the chapter “The Oregon Episode.” Alice is reviewing her birth control options at Planned Parenthood.

“So she told me about the rhythm method, the least reliable, and who’s going to carry a thermometer along on a date anyway.” This is where my stomach sank.

I understand that Alice is a character, and entitled to her own opinions, and is susceptible to misinformation, which we witnessed a lot of in the early books. But the misinformation she received in junior high was usually cleared up at a later point. Perhaps in your research for the book you yourself were given some bad info, but I really wish that that one sentence hadn’t happened. There is a glaring difference between “The Rhythm Method”, which does not facilitate a thermometer, and Fertility Awareness Methods, that use much more than just taking a thermometer on a date. Many natural family planning methods rival the effectiveness of conventional contraceptives.

I know it’s all done and published. I know that the most likely possibility is that you will brush this letter off as an attack masquerading as fan-mail. But I don’t mean it that way at all. I really do have a great respect for you and gratitude for all of the Alice books. I just hope that in the future, you don’t so easily discard very effective information. You have a lot of readers, it’s a big responsibility.

Thank you for your time, and I mean the years you spent writing Alice,
Phyllis replied:
I don’t at all consider your email an attack.  My readers often keep me on my toes, and that certainly was a misguided bit of information, especially as it was supposed to be coming from a medical professional. I do indeed have a responsibility to readers, and though I’ve never pretended to be a doctor, if I have a nurse or doctor giving information, it should be the most accurate out there.  Thank you for you email.  And you don’t have to be embarrassed at tearing up, thumbing through the pages.  I found myself tearing up recently while doing a public reading.

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