Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington & Where's Alice Bliss

Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
Published: June 2011
Published by: Penguin Group

"Outside the back window Alice can see the outlines of the garden, some of the furrows visible under the snow, stretching away in long thin rows. She can't imagine doing the garden without her dad. It's his thing; she's always thought of herself as his assistant at best. She can't imagine doing anything without her dad and she starts to feel like she can't breathe. And then she looks at him. Just looks at him as he watches the fire with muffin crumbs on his lap.
'I'll write to you.'
'I know, sweetheart.'
'Every day.'"
--From Alice Bliss

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 tomboy into a full- blown teenager. Alice will learn to drive, join the track team, go to her first dance, and fall in love, all while trying to be strong for her mother, Angie, and take care of her precocious little sister, Ellie. But the smell of Matt is starting to fade from his blue shirt that Alice wears everyday, and the phone calls are never long enough.

Alice Bliss is a profoundly moving coming-of-age novel about love and its many variations--the support of a small town looking after its own; love between an absent father and his daughter; the complicated love between an adolescent girl and her mother; and an exploration of new love with the boy-next- door. These characters' struggles amidst uncertain times echo our own, lending the novel an immediacy and poignancy that is both relevant and real. At once universal and very personal, Alice Bliss is a transforming story about those who are left at home during wartime, and a teenage girl bravely facing the future.

My review: 
Alice Bliss is growing up while her father is away because of the war, a reality that has happened to many families in the recent years. Alice was always very close to her father and now she is dealing with everyday life without his support. Plus, her mom is having a hard time dealing with her husband being gone, and a lot of the daily responsibilities of caring for her little sister has fallen on Alice. Alice has to learn how to cope with her father being away, on top of normal teenage problems, while letters come sporadically, calls become almost non existent, and then bad news is received with almost no information.

Alice Bliss is such a sad, poignant story. I cried so many times, I ended up reading with a box of tissues next to me. This is a book that so many families today will be able to relate to. I, thankfully, have not had to deal with a parent being in the war, but I was still touched deeply. Laura Harrington has captured the emotions felt by such an experience and portrayed them beautifully. I would recommend Alice Bliss to anyone.

About the author: 
Laura Harrington’s award winning plays, musicals, operas, and radio plays have been widely produced across America, in Canada, and Europe in venues ranging from The Zipper Factory in NYC to Houston Grand Opera to the Paris Cinemateque. 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 in playwriting and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England. Additional awards include a Boston IRNE Award for Best New Play, a Bunting Institute Fellowship at Harvard/ Radcliffe, a Whiting Foundation Grant-in-Aid, the Joseph Kesselring Award for Drama, a New England Emmy, and a Quebec Cinemateque Award.

Laura teaches playwriting at MIT where she was awarded the 2009 Levitan Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She has also been a frequent guest artist at Tufts, Harvard, Wellesley, and the University of Iowa. 

You can find Laura on her site, Twitter, and Facebook.  

I am participating in Where's Alice Bliss? Since Alice Bliss was in Arkansas, we thought it was only right for the visit to include a trip to Razorback Stadium. (Alice Bliss went to call the hogs!)

My copy of Alice Bliss is now going to Ashley of The Bibliophile's Corner. You can follow this copy's journey through Book Crossing.


  1. Great review! I am so ready to read this. As someone who has close ties to the military, I am fully prepared to cry. Bring it on.

    Also, how do I do this Book Crossing? Do I need to sign up and track it once I receive it and then send it? I'm a little confused. =/

  2. Hi Ashley,
    Yes, you will need to sign up at Book Crossing. Then you will enter the number on the inside cover of the book when you get it to show that it is in your possession. Then read, review it, and take a picture. And then go back to Book Crossing to make a note when you "release" it.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions. And thank you for accepting my copy of Alice Bliss! :)

  3. Thanks! I can't wait. This is such a fun way to get a book into as many hands as possible. :)

  4. Thanks so much for that lovely review and for participating in "Where's Alice Bliss?" It has been so much fun to see Alice Bliss passed from reader to reader. Thank you for being a part of this journey.

  5. I HAVE THIS BOOK! I can not wait to read it, it's such a pretty cover and sounds soooo good!



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