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The Agony of Alice (Alice, #1)
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The Agony of Alice (Alice #1)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  4,464 Ratings  ·  209 Reviews
Life, Alice McKinley feels, is just one big embarrassment. Here she is, about to be a teenager and she doesn't know how. It's worse for her than for anyone else, she believes, because she has no role model. Her mother has been dead for years. Help and advice can only come from her father, manager of a music store, and her nineteen-year-old brother, who is a slob. What do t ...more
Paperback, 131 pages
Published August 1st 1997 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published September 1st 1985)
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Elissa I remember hearing about the Alice series being banned from some school libraries. Alice is curious and asks questions about sex, she and her friends…moreI remember hearing about the Alice series being banned from some school libraries. Alice is curious and asks questions about sex, she and her friends discuss menstruation and masturbation, and in a few (later teen years) there is some sexual exploring. I personally think that these are questions that all young people want to ask, and the author gives enough of a response that some of these things are no longer mysteries.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 25, 2011 Farah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ngga ada satu orangpun yang pernah bilang sama gue, kalo jadi remaja itu SUSAH.
Lebih susah dari sekedar naik metromini ke melawai, terus ngerjain soal-soal spmb yang hasilnya cuma bisa menjawab 4 pertanyaan buat mata pelajaran matematika yang jumlah soalnya ada.. 25. And double that.

Lebih susah dari sekedar bangun pagi-pagi buta, menyeret badan ke kamar mandi, cuci muka-gosok gigi-pake kaos kaki dan sepatu lari, lalu membuka pintu pagar, nyalain mp3, dan mulai pemanasan. Lari pagi. Selama 3 bula
Jun 16, 2016 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
October 2011 re-read.

It's hard to believe I've been reading (and re-reading) Alice for 13 years. My Alice collection is mismatched from all the different print runs, so I broke down and bought the matching set with the new covers. I love them! The font and style has been synced for all of the volumes, and very small updates have been made (probably unnoticable if you haven't read these books over a dozen times) such as "milkman" being changed to "mailman." But this is still the same Alice who de
Sophie Riggsby
*Reviewed on Page Turners Blog for Banned Books Week on October 4, 2012*

According to the American Library Association (ALA), Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice series has been one of the most challenged year after year. I decided that this had to be the year to pick it up. I needed to see for myself why the story would be so very controversial.

And here’s what I discovered – Alice is one of the most delightful narrators I’ve read. She’s in sixth grade and in search of a mother figure because her ow
Cayla Mcelwee
Jul 27, 2011 Cayla Mcelwee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my summer reading I chose to read the book The Agony of Alice. I really enjoyed this book, and it kept my attention throughout the entire thing. If I could I would rate this book at 4.5 stars, but since I am not able to, I rated it 4. This book was about a girl starting 6th grade at a new school, which was very convenient for me because she is my age, and having the same troubles as me. The Agony of Alice showed all of Alice's troubles like being new, getting a teacher that she didn't want, ...more
Heidi (Yup. Still here.)
What a great middle grade read. You know a middle grade book is above average when you can read it as an adult and still love it. I felt like I could really relate to Alice. My own mother died when I was 13 so I know what it is like to want to find a "replacement mother". I feel like Ms. Naylor did a wonderful job of showing how hard it is to be a tween and think all the crazy thoughts someone that age thinks. I am glad I stumbled upon this series ( I saw one of the later books when Alice is in ...more
Dana (six strings and a sailboat) Carlisle
Love Alice, Elizabeth, Patrick and Lester. This boom is ammmaaaaazing
Aug 29, 2011 Kari rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I really enjoyed this book. Alice reminded me of myself at age 11. Embarrassing things always seemed to happen to me and I was always wanted to disappear. Alice lives with her father and older brother who have no clue how to relate to a girl. Her father calls her "Al" and her brother doesn't know that jeans come in girls sizes as well as boys. Her relationship with her family makes for some amusing scenes, such as the time a younger Alice asks her brother what a period is after hearing some olde ...more
I remember the first time I heard about Alice.

I was in 7th grade band and my fellow flutist was reading one of the Alice books. She was giggling her head off and so, of course, I had to know what was so funny. She started raving about this fabulous series and then in a confidential whisper told me that it talked about PERIODS and BOOBS. It was so SCANDALOUS! Which meant, of course, that I rushed right to the library and checked out all the Alice books I could find. Once I started reading them,
Oct 16, 2015 Scribd rated it really liked it
Shelves: friday-reads
Behind this absolutely adorable cover lies an equally adorable story about an adolescent girl named Alice who is very anxious about growing up and going through the agony of sixth grade. If you’re wondering how something so cute and endearing could end up on the American Library Association’s most challenged books list consistently over the past two decades, it’s probably because it talks about periods (no, not the “comma without the tail” kind) and kissing. While those are admittedly very big a ...more
The Alice books made such an impact of me growing up, and they still hold up well. I can never believe that these are some of the most banned books in America when they handle growing up in such an innocent and thoughtful way.

Arguably, the lesson of this one is that beauty is on the inside, as observed through Alice's relationship with Mrs. Plotkin. The way their relationship unfolds is very sweet and ties everything together quite nicely.

Observations on a re-read:

I was surprised at all the refe
Jul 20, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s, fiction
I couldn't resist the book when I read the back cover:

"Life is like a dumpster. As soon as you get rid of one embarrassment, you pick up another. I new that this was going to go on forever unless I found someone to set an example for me, and by the time I got the mustard off my shirt, I'd made up my mind: I'd adopt a mother."

Obviously this book was going to amuse me and since Naylor is a Newbery Medal winner for Shiloh, I figured it was a sure hit. There are 26 Alice stories about Alice McKinley
Jul 15, 2008 Lindsey rated it really liked it
Alice McKinley is sure she is the most embarrassing person on earth. She is also sure it's because she doesn't have a mother to show her what to do. Alice thinks if she can only get the beautiful Miss Cole as her teacher this year, she can adopt Miss Cole as her surrogate mother and get back on the right track. Alas, she is Mrs. Plotkin's room, and Alice is mortified. Everything bad always happens to her! Will Alice ever grow up? Or will she keep growing backwards?

I thought Alice was so spot-on
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Pages: 131
Lexile Level: 910L
Summary: Eleven year-old Alice McKinley moves with her father and older brother to a new town and a new school. Yearning for a female role model, she longs to be in the class of the beautiful Miss Cole. She could imagine her replacing her own dead mother someday. Instead she is assigned to the frumpier Mrs. Plotkin. For a long time, it seems as though she has no one to help her navigate friendships, boys, and puberty. Matter-of-fact treatment of the latter is likely w
Zoe D
Oct 18, 2015 Zoe D rated it it was amazing
The Agony of Alice is a fun book and Alice is a character that a lot of people can connect to. It's one of those books that when you start reading you can't stop.

Alice's mom died when she was younger and Alice is the women of the house; she live with her dad and her older brother Lester. She is going to start sixth grade soon with her friends, Pamela and Elizabeth. But she might have a problem without a female role model she can look up to she was hoping it might be her teach she just hopes sh
Oct 21, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
This book literally took me 40 minutes to read but it brought back a lot of memories. I first had to read this series in my 5th grade class. It was part of our reading group. I recently got a galley of the last book in this 24 book series and have decided to take it upon myself to re-read the old books that I haven't read in a good 15 years, and read some of the ones I didn't bother reading, culminating in the final book in the series. This book was a great book, with a wonderful memorable chara ...more
Aug 20, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, children
The first of a series that was on a list of frequently banned books so I took it out of the library to see what all the fuss was about. Horrors: 6th grade Alice gets her first bra and her first period.

Somehow I missed this series as my girls were growing up. It is that just right combination of funny and growing up agonizing. Alice reminds me somewhat of Anastasia, heroine of another good growing up series, who also has a list of what is going well and badly in life. In spite of the censors, I w
Jun 21, 2009 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 11th-grade
This is a coming of age book about a girl named Alice. All she needs is guidance and with her mom dead she hopes she gets the perfect teacher, but she doesn't and gets stuck with a horrible teacher instead who looks like she can't help Alice at all. This was a really quick read and I enjoyed reading it because I could totally relate to Alice.
Aug 24, 2008 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, series
Alice has moved, once again, from Takoma Park to Silver Spring. She meets the kids at school: the redheaded Patrick Long, the golden-haired princess Pamela Jones, and the perfect Elizabeth Price. Alice learns how to deal with all sorts of humiliation, but she takes it in good grace.
Dec 31, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
This book is the first in the series, and I think it really hits all the emotional highlights...tenderness, awkwardness, etc.
Dec 05, 2016 Terry rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Love Alice!!!!!!
Kati Polodna
Dec 24, 2016 Kati Polodna rated it liked it
Shelves: tween-friendly
Awkward and funny. Alice had some growing pains!
Oct 15, 2016 Krystal rated it really liked it
This book was OKAY. It was pretty interesting and kind of sad at the parts where Alice was grieving over the fact she doesn't have a mother. But, it was also kind of predictable at the kicking Miss Cole part on Halloween, when Alice was a horse. This story talked about some pretty personal things that are irrelevant to the text. Alice is a 6th grader and they are using the P word, and another thing is they are talking about bras. I would recommend this story to 7th graders and above, definitely ...more
May 14, 2008 Emma rated it liked it
In the world of children's literature (and in recent years also YA), one name is mentioned above all others: Alice. To be specific, Alice McKinley--the intrepid heroine of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's long running children's/YA series.

"The Agony of Alice" is the debut novel of this series, originally published in 1985 and now out in a variety of reprints with myriad versions of cover art. Personally, I'd be more willing to consider Naylor's prequel novel "Starting With Alice" (from 2002) to be the
Kate Boisoneau
Sep 11, 2016 Kate Boisoneau rated it liked it
I'm working my way through children/YA fiction and I chose this book because it's on the banned list and I was curious.
It's a poignant story about a sixth grade girl starting school in Silver Spring, Maryland, which she's just moved to with her father and her 19 year old brother, Lester. Her mother died when Alice was five, so she has a lot of the longing and struggle girls without mothers have. She is dazzled by a teacher at her school, Miss Cole, and longs to be in her class and more so, to be
My favorite book in the Alice series! This was the first book Naylor wrote about Alice, though now it falls 4th in the series behind the 3 prequels.

Alice is in 6th grade and new to Silver Springs. She struggles with the idea of whether or not she is growing backwards as evidenced by all of her embarrassing moments.

Longing for a mother, Alice sets her sights on Miss Cole, a glamorous 6th grade teacher. She is sure that if she can just get placed in Miss Cole's class, then she will be living a l
Apr 22, 2013 Gale rated it it was ok

Poor Alice McKinney--only ll years old and no mother to show her how to become a woman or even face impending Teenage-hood. Her father is too busy at his music store and her much older brother is worse than useless--as if either of them had first-hand experience in distaff duties. Alice concludes that she needs to "adopt" some glamorous, spiffy, chic teacher as a fill-in mom.

But she winds up in the Wrong class to realize that goal so easily: she considers herself
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for

Once again, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor takes us inside the mind of Alice in THE AGONY OF ALICE, and shares all the crazy adventures and thoughts that we never thought a pre-teen would have.

Alice McKinley is moving into a new house and entering the sixth grade. Almost a teenager, Alice just wants a little help getting used to all of those crazy issues that girls experience. And only having a father and brother, neither of whom kno
Behind this absolutely adorable cover lies an equally adorable story about an adolescent girl named Alice who is very anxious about growing up and going through the agony of sixth grade. If you’re wondering how something so cute and endearing could end up on the American Library Association’s most challenged books list consistently over the past two decades, it’s probably because it talks about periods (no, not the “comma without the tail” kind) and kissing. While those are admittedly very big a ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Angel rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy H
This was such a good book. I remember reading it when i was little, but totally forgot about it!

This is a Story about Alice. She is starting 6th grade and is trying to find herself. She is without a mother because her mother died young. She is trying to figure out how to grow up.

Living with her older brother and dad she has not been taught very girly things. Now moving to a new town she sees all these girls with their mothers dressing in nice clothes. That is what she wants. She was going to fin
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED: YA series dealing with teen issues, early 2000's [s] 10 59 Oct 07, 2014 12:12AM  
Alice series fans: The agony of alice 1 4 Aug 07, 2014 08:50PM  
YA lovers <3: The Agony Of Alice 1 4 Jul 10, 2014 02:30AM  
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Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was born in Anderson, Indiana, US on January 4, 1933.

Her family were strongly religious with conservative, midwestern values and most of her childhood was spent moving a lot due to her father's occupation as a salesman.

Though she grew up during the Depression and her family did not have a lot of money, Naylor stated that she never felt poor because her family owned good boo
More about Phyllis Reynolds Naylor...

Other Books in the Series

Alice (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • Alice in Rapture, Sort of (Alice, #2)
  • Reluctantly Alice (Alice, #3)
  • All But Alice (Alice, #4)
  • Alice in April (Alice, #5)
  • Alice In-Between (Alice, #6)
  • Alice the Brave (Alice, #7)
  • Alice in Lace (Alice, #8)
  • Outrageously Alice (Alice, #9)
  • Achingly Alice (Alice, #10)
  • Alice on the Outside  (Alice, #11)

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“Patrick and I were about as different as two people could possibly be. Nothing embarrasses Patrick very much, and everything embarrasses me. Just being alive embarrasses me.” 2 likes
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