Afraid to Start Reading It

I’m sitting here staring at the cover of “Now I’ll Tell You Anything” afraid to start it. I’m not afraid of reading it because of the content. I’m sure you did a fabulous job, as you always do. I’m afraid of opening it because when I finish this book, it’s the end of an era that has lasted a decade for me. I stumbled across “Alice in April” in my fifth grade teacher’s bookshelf one day when I was only 10 years old. And from the moment that I picked it up, I was hooked. When I found out that it was a series, I was excited. I used every single Barnes and Noble gift card I received for birthdays or Christmases to go buy more books to try to complete my collection. Eventually, I had every single Alice book up until the ones that had yet to be published. And I read them faithfully. I read them throughout middle school, the most hellacious time of my life, as I was bullied out of my mind. I related to her on so many levels. My best friends Alana, Anna, and Kaltra are very similar to Pam, Liz, and Gwen, as we have been best friends since elementary and middle school.

I’m 20 years old right now, going into my third year of college. And reading this book and completing it symbolizes that I’m not a little girl anymore. I’ve been reading these books for a decade. This book, as I understand, takes Alice all the way til she’s 60. She’s no longer talking as if she’s a teenager. She’s talking as an adult, as my peer, finally, because for so long I would be so much younger than she was in the books that I was reading. This book symbolizes the continuation of my journey into adulthood. It lets me let go of being that 10 year old who was SO excited every time you mentioned anything about puberty or sex in your books because it was so informative. I mean, here I am, in a steady relationship with the man I think I’m going to marry, studying social work at the college of my dreams. I’m growing up, and Alice is too. And once I finish this book, I feel like I’m not a kid anymore.

That’s how big a part of my childhood these books were to me, Ms. Naylor. I know you probably get it all the time. But I’m 20 and I still have every single book lined up in order on my bookshelf in my childhood room. My sister is 11, and I told her this summer, I want to read them with her. Your books help people, so much. Your writing is beautiful and real. And ALICE is real.

So even though I haven’t started this book yet, I wanted to thank you. I’ll get up the courage to open the cover. Although I do have a feeling that there will be tear shed throughout the course of reading it. Thanks for helping me have such an amazing childhood and young adulthood. I know I’m probably just another email praising you and thanking you, but I do hope you have the chance to read this, and to realize how much you’ve helped me. “Now I’ll Tell You Everything” is going to be amazing, I just know it.

Thank you so much, Ms. Naylor.
Phyllis replied:
Your letter moved me so much I forwarded it to my editor.  I’m sure it made her day as well.  It delights me to know that your sister will enjoy the books, and that you have the whole collection.  Thanks so much for writing to me.

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