Living Vicariously Through Alice

Question:

As evident on your website, you must receive dozens of emails from girls of all ages saying they identify with Alice. I’m no different; I also identify with her! I will never forget when I checked out my first Alice book “Alice the Brave” from the library. I was 13 years old (like Alice), extremely average (like Alice), and was terrified of swimming in deep water (like Alice!). I would go to the library and look up all kinds of books in the catalog, and what I was experiencing as a 13 year old led me to Alice. After a failed attempt at learning how to swim as a child, my mother enrolled me in private swimming lessons at the pool. I was so scared, but after reading what Alice went through and how she overcame her fears, I felt confident that I could learn how to swim. And I did!

I believe that it was divine intervention that led me to Alice, because after reading “Alice the Brave” I continued to read every Alice book I could get my hands on, and her experiences helped me tremendously. I love how unabashed you were when it came to writing about puberty and sex. In “The Grooming of Alice”, when the girls attend the ‘For Girls Only’ seminar at the YMCA, I felt like I was right there along with them; I learned so much! I was such a shy and introverted teenager, that I feel like I lived vicariously through Alice and her friends’. I continue to re-read the Alice books, even as a 24-almost-25 year old, and I suspect that I will continue to read these books and pass them along to my children one day. My fiancé teases me all the time for reading them, but they truly make me happy (despite knowing exactly what happens in each book).

I honestly cannot thank you enough for writing these books; there are times when Alice feels like a real person, and a real friend. I feel a little silly typing that, but it’s the truth. The parallels between what I experienced as a teenager, and what Alice did resonates with so many girls. I work in a middle school library, and it makes me so happy when kids check out the Alice books; new generations of kids still identify with Alice. The Alice books are timeless.

Although I was sad when I read the final Alice book (I read it as soon as it came out!), I thought you did a tremendous job wrapping up the series; I have no complaints! I also want to commend you and your copy editor for giving the fans the ‘Alice Bible’ on your website. I know that it must have taken a lot of work to compile, but I had so much fun reading it! I will continue to reference it when I re-read the series.

Again, thank you for writing the Alice books.

Phyllis replied:

I appreciate your letter so much, and I’ve passed it on to the editorial staff as well.  What a nice fan letter for a Friday!   I’m just so glad that you found help in “Alice the Brave.”  That’s the way I finally conquered my fear of deep water too, and the person who taught me was a girl in my church group, who took the time, when we were all in a pool together, to show me the little trick of swimming back and forth in a corner of the pool .  Once I was convinced that I would stay up and not sink, the rest came more easily.  The girl wasn’t even a close friend–just someone who noticed my fear, and sympathized enough to help.

What delights me most about your letter is that you are now in a position to recommend the Alice books to other girls.  So the people who helped me in my life problems found a place in my books, and you found help from them and are passing it along….

Yes, the Alice bible was enormous work for the copy-editor who put it together, and I’ve used it many times even now when I want to look up something in particular to use in a talk.  Thanks again for a letter that made us all happy today.

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