Why Didn’t Alice Save Herself for Patrick?

Question:

I started reading your Alice books when I was around ten. I’m an avid reader, and I’ve read most of the Alice books (my library and bookstore don’t carry all of them unfortunately). I’m now 14, and I’ve just finished reading Now I’ll Tell You Everything. I cried. Amazing, because I’ve read so many books in my life and only one other has actually brought tears to my eyes.
One thing I wanted to ask you is about something that surprised, and truthfully, disappointed me. Alice has loved Patrick for so long. I know that when she got together with Dave, her and Patrick are broken up, but still. Her whole relationship with Dave seems fake. Unreal and untrue. And I absolutely couldn’t believe that her first time had been with Dave.
Why did you decide to do that? Why could Alice not have saved herself for Patrick?
But thank you. For Alice. For she is as real to me as any of my friends, and I am honored to have known her and have seen her grow up.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Phyllis replied:

I thought about that one for a long time.  The fact is, there is not just one person in the world we can love–who can be our soul mate.  Rather, there is a “type” that we are drawn to particularly, and I would not want readers to get the idea that we wait for that one special Prince Charming.  We meet only a small handful of men or women at a particular time in our lives when we are looking to settle down, and people fall in love when– usually after dating a number of different people, and perhaps even being in a couple of serious relationships–they find someone with whom they feel comfortable being themselves, and–as Lester explains to Alice–makes them feel passion, tenderness, and joy.  Especially joy.

As far as Alice knows, Patrick is at the other end of the world and has perhaps fallen in love with someone else.  Dave is kind, she’s attracted to him physically, they care for each other, and he makes her feel loved.  I think it is very natural that she would feel drawn to him, as one of the many men she could love.  But she begins to feel that–even leaving Patrick out of the equation for the time being–that the things they are interested in are just too different. They don’t have the same motivation…and wisely, she gives him up.  If Patrick had not come back, I think Alice would eventually have found another man she loved.  As much.  Perhaps even more.  But once we choose a mate, we need to be committed to the idea of marriage as much as we are to that particular person, and she and Patrick made it work.

I hope that answers your question, and I very much appreciate your writing to me.

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