Jennifer's Reviews > Alice-Miranda at School

Alice-Miranda at School by Jacqueline Harvey
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Sep 10, 11

bookshelves: extended-reviews
Read in September, 2011

True rating: 4.5 stars.

In Alice-Miranda at School, the line is thin between the absurd and the realistic, but the book chooses to never fully become either, content as it is to splash frequently into the waters of both. There are times when you just about lose the sense that Alice-Miranda is a real girl and that Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy is a real school, but it never quite happens. Every character is (intentionally) just a bit off from real life, and yet not outside the realm of possibility. The same goes for the plot, which is driven by elements that might sink another book (like a seven year old giving orders to adult school personnel who in turn follow them), but here they actually help it stay afloat and increase its believability. (Although one of the storyline’s pivotal moments is clearly staged by the author. SPOILER ALERT: The man who saves A-M in the woods and who then plays a major role in the resolution is said to have just come to the school grounds. It would have been much better, and seemed less contrived, had he been living there a long time in, say, a ramshackle shack he had built in a secluded part of the woods and which Alice-Miranda stumbles upon during her trek. The author’s way of bringing the characters together is too much of a convenient coincidence to be believed.)

The slightly improbable plot and its slightly daft characters hold together because Alice-Miranda is one of the most winning, most unceasingly optimistic, roll with the punches character of any age I have encountered in the pages of a book. She is bright, insightful, decisive, charismatic, and compassionate. And precocious, so very precocious. She matter-of-factly goes about her business putting things and people to rights at her new school, and no obstacle – there are several of those – is too great for her indomitable spirit.

Alice-Miranda is a fun heroine to root for and Alice-Miranda at School a fun book to read. I am looking forward to following her adventures in the sequels!
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