One of my favorite things about reading is getting so sucked into a reality completely different from my own, even if the reality has a contemporary setting. Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington is about a reality that I am fortunate enough to not have experienced, but one that I feel is all too common for many families these days. Friends, I was a tad bit nervous before starting Alice Bliss because it is an adult book, however, it was immensely readable and quite the emotional experience. I’d definitely recommend this experience.
Alice Bliss is a 15 year old girl who lives in a small town in upstate NY near Rochester. Her parents are madly in love. Her little sister Ellie is annoying in the way that all little sisters are annoying. When her father, Matt, is called up from the army reserves to serve over in Iraq, Alice and her family are beside themselves, and so the rest of Laura Harrington’s book deals with adjusting to life in Matt’s absence and dealing with the fear and the worry.
What I especially loved about Alice Bliss was actually Alice as a character. She’s got faults yes, but not so much that it overwhelms her essence. Girl is going through a rough patch, ya know? Anyways, we really get an in depth look at how Alice deals, as she’s the title character. We see her coming of age and how hard she tries to hold the family together — from making dinner to taking on extra chores. We see Alice have a bit of an emotional breakdown as she wears Matt’s shirt day after day after day as a sort of talisman. We see Alice experience a bit of swoon and first love and ugh, you guys I LOVED IT. I think that many of you will be able to relate to what Alice is going through, even if this book is a bit outside the norm of regular YA.
Laura Harrington’s Alice Bliss really resonated with me emotionally. I mean, lol I was reading it in the morning at my desk while easing into my shift and would tear up and start sniffling. Luckily no one asked me what was wrong because no one was here yet. But there are characters who are kind of unlikely champions or unlikely heroes, but ended up being my very favorites, like Alice’s Uncle Eddie who teaches her to drive using fancy cars and is solidly there for his family. Or Gram, who owns The Bird Sisters Cafe and does small, simple things to help the family through. It wasn’t the big reveals or the large events that got me, but the small moments in between that choked me right up. Honestly, it’s cliche to say but Alice Bliss definitely struck an emotional cord with me.
Friends, I really do recommend Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington although it might be out of your usual age genre. Like, if you are like me, chances are you read a whole LOT of contemporary YA but maybe don’t get to ‘adult’ books all that often. Or maybe you believe that the YA/adult distinction is just packaging — not always the case, but this time, I do think that Alice Bliss could either go on the adult shelf or the YA shelf and be at home. If you like books that will get you emotional, want to know what it’s like to be part of a family left behind while a loved one is called up to fight abroad, or love evocative writing that reaches in and just speaks to you, then yes you need to drop your life and read Alice Bliss.
Disclosure: Received for review for a blog tour that I am a day late posting for! SIGH!
Other reviews of Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington:
Reading Teen – “left me in tears when I turned the last page”
Books And Movies – “I believe Alice’s story is an important one”