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.'
--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.
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:
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.