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Alice Bliss

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,750 Ratings  ·  576 Reviews
When Alice Bliss learns that her father, Matt, is being deployed to Iraq, she's heartbroken. Alice idolizes her father, loves working beside him in their garden, accompanying him on the occasional roofing job, playing baseball. When he ships out, Alice is faced with finding a way to fill the emptiness he has left behind.

Matt will miss seeing his daughter blossom from a to
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published (first published June 1st 2011)
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Five-hundred stars . . . Five-billion emotions!!!

Alice Bliss: Highly recommended to all who aren't ashamed to cry or afraid to reach deeply into the well of human-compassion.

I cannot even begin to convey through mere words, let alone wax poetically, how moved I was by Harrington’s simplistically-profound novel. Alice Bliss, by far the most emotionally charged contemporary-novel I've read this year. And one of the best novels I've ever read dealing with separation anxiety and grief.

What can I say about this book that I simply devoured in the last 24 hours. I cried, I laughed, and I was deeply touched from this novel that destroyed a family's happiness and closeness. Matt Bliss is a father and a husband that feels that it is his duty to serve his country in Iraq via the National Guard. He was always one to get the most out of life, and serving his country would allow this. His family, wife Angie and daughters Alice and Ellie, don't understand why he has to go to Iraq. While ...more
Liza Wiemer
If a novel could have a heartbeat, Alice Bliss would have one. If an author could capture a slice of America's soul, Laura Harrington succeeded in doing so!

Alice Bliss is the story of Alice, a fifteen-year-old faced with the absence of her father who, as a member of the New York National Guard, is sent to Iraq. Laura Harrington does such an exceptional job bringing Alice Bliss and the supporting characters to life, that you will find yourself completely enthralled in her story. Each sentence lea
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Bliss is a 15-year-old girl who is trying to deal with her father's deployment to Iraq. She picks up all the slack when her mom can't handle things at home, while at the same time she is missing her father terribly. This book is written so honestly and so emotionally that it seems like a true life story, not fiction. I could easily sympathize with both Alice and her mother all the way through the story. As I was finishing this book, I saw the story in the news about the recent helicopter c ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, fiction
Alice Bliss broke my heart.

(I've been trying, but I can't separate my review of the book from my personal response to it, which necessitates a spoiler. Be forewarned.)

I could write at length about the floodgates of emotions that the book brought to the surface, but it would be rather more than I am comfortable sharing in a public review. Suffice to say, the book hit very close to home for me.

Matt Bliss, an Army reservist, gets called up and deployed to Iraq, leaving his wife Angie and daughter
Kat Wells
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I really liked this book! I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars! This is her debut novel and she did a great job. I loved her writing style because it really flowed well and made the book go quickly. The only thing I didn't like with her writing was the conversation style. I liked that there was a lot of conversations but I didn't like that she never said who said what so you really had to keep along with the book.
The other thing I loved was the character of Alice Bliss. She was really thought out and s
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Bliss is a beautifully tender story. When my friend recommended it to me, she said, "Maybe I liked it so much because of the close relationship I have to my dad. I found a connection here." I can see why. Alice and her father Matt share a love of life. They talk and share and garden together. It's the kind of relationship any girl wants with her dad. Conflict comes when Matt goes to war, and Alice is left to deal with a mother she cannot relate to and an ache that comes from missing her da ...more
Rosemary Ibekwe
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am usually not one who cries when reading books, but in this book I cried in almost every page. This book is so good. It is written so beautifully, the style easy to read and the characters easy to connect to. It was such a lovely book, but so painful that it had to be so sad. What I really loved about this book was that Laura, the author, did not try to force down the story on you. She let you connect to the characters, feel their pain, she let the story materialize inside you. She did what a ...more
Reading Teen
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of us who have no real experience with military life, Laura Harrington's book is a window into the lives of those who stay behind when a loved one goes to war. It feels real. It is filled with tension. It is heart-wrenching on many levels. I really, really like this book and it left me in tears when I turned the last page.

The main character is 15 year old Alice Bliss. Her father, Matt, is a member of the Army Reserves whose unit has been called into action. Matt is the heart of his fa
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-books, owned
This was an interesting debut - heartfelt and seemingly real. Harrington is a lyricist and librettist and these talents are evident in the dialogue. The story fell a bit short for me as it seemed too simple, as though there were more impressive heights Harrington could have aspired to, but couldn't pull it off.

This novel would make a great mother-daughter (I would say girls aged 13+) read. I also think it offers a good portrait of families at home while their loved ones are away, fighting wars.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for the book club. it is a wonderful story and I really enjoyed it. the first half was really slow moving and hard for me to get into but the second half was really good. make sure you have a box of tissues while reading this book.
I picked this up at a community bookshop, offering free books, the premise and beautiful cover made me want take it home with me. Young Alice, is the central character, her Dad is missing in action, and the story leads from there. It does have elements of P.s, I Love You, but would say this book was better, I think the characters are more fleshed out, and engaging. It’s heartfelt throughout, Alice and her family were believable and likeable.

Although the story was quite sad in places, there was a
Bev Taylor
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
can u ever let go of those who leave ...... ?!

alice lives an idyllic childhood with matt, her father, with whom she shares so much. not only what he teaches her but also his love of the land and his understanding. she also has a younger sister ellie, who has a love of words and angie, her mother, who seems to drift in and out of her existence

all of this is torn away when matt leaves to fight in the vietnam war. then 2 soldiers turn up on their doorstep to say is he is missing in action and the
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure why this book got any good reviews. The author took an interesting story (a teenage girl who's father is sent to Iraq) and did a dreadful job of writing a book. Her writing was not just mediocre, it was bad. It isolated a very currently, relevant topic and reduced it to an irrelevant book. There was no mention of how the town or the country reacted to war, or anyone's comments about the war and how this would make the character feel having her dad there, there was absolutely no thou ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Bliss
Author: Laura Harrington
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Alice Bliss adored her father. She enjoyed nothing more than having him as a dance partner, someone to confide in and just being around him. Alice Bliss could see, feel, hear and smell the scent of her father just thinking about him. Images stay sharp when people are close by.

Matt Bliss had a vision for his life one that differed from his wife Angie. Angie enjoyed going out to dinner, the finer things in life where as Matt enjoyed the cou
Sara Smith
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't put this book down. To describe it in one word: Anguish. What happens when your dad goes to Iraq and never comes back like he promised. Pure anguish. This story made me cry so much with it's heartbreaking themes as a 14-15 year old Alice deals with being a teenager as well as missing her dad.
❂ Sam ❂
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have read a few other books between the Selection and Alice Bliss but I felt like I needed to write this review first. There are very few books that I will sit down and read in one shot. When I started Alice Bliss I knew that it was going to be an emotional story and I knew that it was a story that was going to strike home. I did not intend to stay up until two in the morning reading it. I did not intend to cry as much as I did. This is one of those rare books that I've found
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a similar review:
To read about my book group's discussion with Laura Harrington:

I have a confession to make. My daily life is not all that affected by the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I don't know anyone personally who is fighting. If something big happens the news reports about it, but I don't think a lot about what is going on in the Middle East. Or what happens to the families that the soldiers leav
Sarah Ballance
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Alice Bliss. If only I’d known ahead of time . . . or maybe not. This isn’t a story one can prepare for, and it’s not one from which a person can turn away. ALICE BLISS is a slice of life—a timely American classic from the day the words first hit the page. A story that is not only “now,” but also ageless. One of life and love and letting go, of moving on and healing and reaching for life through those hours that seem the darkest and equally those of blinding sun.

It’s amazing.

Alice Bliss the
Reviewed at:

4.5 stars

I went back and forth between a 4 and a 5 for this book, but overall the story won me over and I had to give it a 5. The story is emotion-packed, filled with beautiful, descriptive writing, and includes some of my favorite male characters.

Matt Bliss, Alice's father, is the center of this book without actually being in most of is. In the first section of the book, Matt is deployed to Iraq leaving his wife and two daughters behind. Tho
Alice Bliss broke my heart. The story is a simple one: Alice Bliss is the elder of two daughters in a close family. Her beloved father is sent to Iraq when his National Guard unit is called to active duty. What follows is the story of how the family he left behind learns to cope with his absence. Laura Harrington allows the reader to enter into the minds of Alice, her family and some friends. The love is palpable, though individual emotions are not always understood or recognized by those concer ...more
Melanie Storie
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC giveaway of this book from Goodreads and was so excited just to win something. Now that I have finished the book, I am doubly thrilled that Alice Bliss was so thoughtful, so touching, and so true. Alice Bliss is fifteen years old when her father, a member of the National Guard, is sent to Iraq. Alice is left to deal with coming of age without her father, with whom she is very close. The reader journeys with Alice and her other family members as they deal with sending a loved on ...more
Damn, what an emotional read.

I’m not usually someone who allows my emotions to get the better of me in books, but this one… this one hit a nerve. Or it hit two nerves… or, more accurately, more than I’ll admit to.

That being said, such is why it received a three star review rather than a two. The fact that I finally found a book that managed to hit all the right places emotionally instantly pushed it up a star. But the actual book itself… it let me down.

I’ll admit that this is not my usual kind o
Julie Ekkers
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alice Bliss is about what happens to Alice Bliss and her family (her father, mother, and younger sister) when her father, a member of the Reserves, is called up and sent to serve in Iraq. Alice is in high school. Her sister is much younger; second grade maybe. I thought all of the characters were well-drawn, particularly some of the more minor characters. They all rang true to me, which is to say that sometimes, they were annoying, and then a few pages later, I found myself feeling tender toward ...more
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately, I seem to be choosing powerful, heartwarming and extremely emotional books – with this being about the 3rd in the last few months that I’ve needed the box of tissues handy. ‘Alice Bliss’ draws you into the story where you care deeply about all the characters who are affected by her father’s call up to the war in Iraq. The family’s life is put on hold as we watch with admiration the 15 year old Alice deal with day to day life, and feel the tight bond she has with her Dad which is to be ad ...more
Tamara Herrera
This book was the emotional rollercoaster that it promised to be; be prepared with Kleenex. The story is about a young girl (she is 15) and her family who are dealing with the dad's deployment to the Middle East as part of the National Guard. The book mainly explores the relationship between the father and daughter, but it also explores other relationships too: sister/sister, mother/daughter, friend/friend (or more than a friend?), grandmother/granddaughter, and uncle/niece. The book is able to ...more
Whitney Oaks
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never cried so much while reading a book as I did while reading Alice Bliss.
I empathized with how Angie and the girls were feeling leading up to and during the deployment. thankfully I never had to deal with the anguish and heartache of a MIA soldier.
And then again when they were at the wake and the funeral, I felt just as I had when my Dad passed away in 2005. I cried the hardest when Alice was in the car on the way to the beach at the end.
God, this was a great read. When I learned tha
May 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this in Goodreads First Read giveaway. It's storyline reminds me of the book Blue, only in more modern times.

*UPDATE* 6/2/11:
I think I would probably give this a 3.5. When I first started it, I didn't think it would touch me as much as at did. It is a compelling story of a 15 year old and her family struggling with their father's deployment to Iraq. While I wished there had been some deeper character development and the father was immortalized a little too much as a "perfect" man, I found
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I ADORED this book. It was so engaging from the first page, and I'm not afraid to admit that I cried on and off (mostly on) for the whole second half of the book. It was so well written and believable. All of the characters were well fleshed out, and they each bought their own emotions to the story. At times I wanted to shake Alice (or her mother), or scream at Henry (or John), and on and on. My only real complaint about the book is that at times the dialogue felt a little to mature and sophisti ...more
Jo Ann
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely coming of age story, and I so enjoyed the relationship between Alice and her Dad, Matt Bliss. It reminder me of me and my Dad, especially the gardening stories; I treasure those times with my Dad, and Alice and Matt had many times that bonded them, making the story rich and wonderful. I've never been through, or been close to anyone who has had the anguish and fear of a loved one's deployment to Iraq - but Harrington certainly clarified what a wife or daughter must experience!
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Book Trailer for "Alice Bliss"! 3 29 Aug 22, 2015 01:31PM  
52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2014.47: Alice Bliss 1 25 Nov 21, 2014 05:03AM  
How did the author come up with the idea of the character? 1 8 Feb 07, 2013 12:07PM  
What does the blue scarf (that Angie throws out the window)symbolize 2 25 Sep 26, 2012 01:44PM  
What New Books Are Being Taught in High School? 1 13 Jul 19, 2012 09:31AM  
Army Wives or Teen Book Clubs 1 10 Apr 25, 2012 09:03AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Alice Bliss 1 2 Mar 03, 2012 04:31AM  
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Laura Harrington's award-winning plays, musicals, and operas have been widely produced across America, in Canada, and Europe in venues ranging from off-off-Broadway to Houston Grand Opera. She is the 2008 Kleban Award Winner for most promising librettist in American Musical Theatre. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award and the Clauder Competition for best new play ...more
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“He begins to sing to her, very softly, almost not singing at all, just a whisper of a tune. He spins out the tune like it is a tale he is telling her, until he feels her body relax, until he feels her falling into sleep. He sings to let her know he’s there, to stay anchored to the earth, to keep from laughing or crying in amazement that he is lying with Alice in his arms, he sings as if music could keep her alive, as if music could feed her soul, as if music could weave a protective spell around her to survive these days and these weeks and these months and these years, he sings as if he could give her a piece of himself, which will ring inside of her like a bell, like a promise, like hope whenever she needs him; and in his singing, he promises her every single thing he can think of, and more.” 12 likes
“She smoothes the front of the dress, looking down at her hands, at her bitten fingernails, at her big feet in the pointy-toes shoes. This is a woman's dress, she thinks, a young woman's dress. It is not a girl's dress. It is solidly on the other side of the line outside of girlhood. It is a dress that says something big in a very quiet way; it is a dress that is talking to Alice right now, a dress that is making her feel possibilities never before considered, the possibility of perfume and pretty and dancing and boys. This dress is who she might be, only more so.” 2 likes
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