Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'll admit it - this brought a tear to my eye. Overall, I liked the book but did have a few quibbles: Ellie was too precocious (she's supposed to be in 2nd grade, not middle school), and if we get to hear Angie's voice then perhaps the character should have been fleshed out a little more.
Mostly, though, this is about Alice and her struggles to grow up as well as deal with her father's deployment to Iraq (he's in the reserves... this was never supposed to happen!). Because this is a small-ish sized town, you get the feeling that more people know what's going on than Alice lets on, although from her point-of-view she's pretty alone (excepting, of course, her family and Henry, her BFF/boy-next-door). Coping with her father's absence and trying to preserve the things he wanted done the way he wanted (the garden, for example) is difficult for her, and she takes refuge in running - a topic I wish had been explored more than the breads Mrs. Piantowski makes.
Matt's decision to join the NG resonated with me; I know someone who felt the same way ("...doing what's right, not letting someone else do what he should do: serving his country, set an example for his girls") and who, like Matt, was deployed to Iraq for a couple of years. While many of my friends may not understand his reason, I think many readers will.
Copy provided by publisher.