Alice on the Outside (#11)

Posted May 9, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 4 Comments

Worst. Cover. Ever. Seriously, this cover sucks and I'm glad they are redoing it.

Alice on the Outside
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Simon Pulse
Checked out via Interlibrary Loan
[#33 in my 75 book challenge]

And now Alice starts to really experience some weighty issues…and there are so many more to come in this series! This one took me some time to find, since it is the one Alice book my school library doesn’t own. It is also the one book I didn’t buy when I bought the rest from Amazon. I think I was buying both library books and personal books around the time this one was no longer in print because it was up for re-release with a new cover. Now that I own #1-10 and #12-21, I just have a few more to buy so I can complete my collection on my shelf!


It’s the winter of eighth grade, and Alice doesn’t believe that prejudice exists in her town…until the entire school participates in a diversity awareness week. Students are divided and given privileges based on hair color and some interesting issues are brought to life. In addition, one of Alice’s friends comes out to her and Alice asks her cousin, Carol, what sex feels like so she can finally have this important question answered. The book ended with the eighth grade formal, which Alice has been looking forward to for months, and it brings both disappointing and fun surprises.

Issues Tackled

Prejudice. Kissing horizontally. Lesbians. Being left out. What sex feels like. Liking two boys at the same time.


Elizabeth, on Pamela: “What if she gets pregnant and stays inside all summer and never goes over to Mark’s pool and goes around in baggy clothes till September, and then she keeps skipping gym? And around Christmas, when everyone else is singing carols, what if Pamela goes out in the garage and has a baby in the backseat of her dad’s Chevrolet, and it’s a little boy, only she can’t stand the thought that he might grow up to be a rapist too like his father, so she…she’d go to prison for murder, Alice! You and I would have to go visit her every Sunday and take her fruit!”

“I wondered why people seem so afraid that someone who’s gay or lesbian might make a pass at them. All you have to say it no, just like you’d tell a guy who was hitting on you.”

FINAL GRADE: B+  I don’t think I remember reading this one at all. The lesbian characters show up in the other books, but I don’t know that I ever actually read the book where Alice first learns this information about her friend. What I liked best was how Naylor writes Alice’s character’s response to her friend coming on to her. Alice is a bit confused and surprised, but handles the situation well and honestly. I was in the ninth grade when I really first interacted with a friend who was openly gay, so I think Naylor’s timing for this event in Alice’s life was perfect.

Do remember the first time someone came out to you? How did you handle it?


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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4 responses to “Alice on the Outside (#11)

  1. I remember when I walked in on my first college roommate and found her in bed with a female friend from down the hall! I had been on a double date the night before with her, each of us with a GUY! I remember taking about 2 years to be willing to comprehend bi-sexuals. But that was in the mid 1960s in the Deep South and these sexual issues were still being covered up a lot. I am glad to know that your students can read in the Alice books and learn about these facts in a more comfortable and free-flowing manner!

  2. I was told that people assumed I was a lesbian (6th grade) long before I had a friend come out to me (9th grade). I think all I said was “okay” because it wasn’t really any more significant to me than if he had said his bloodtyoe was AB positive instead of O. In retrospect I am sure it was a huge issue for him, he friended me on Facebook and he is still very angry about the way a lot of people treated him in high school. I don’t know if my reaction was a good one or if I should have made a bigger show of being sensitive? It’s a difficult issue.

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