Alice on Her Way (英語) ハードカバー – 2005/5/17
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It's the moment Alice has been looking forward to for years -- her sixteenth birthday is coming up, and that means getting her driver's licence, with the freedom that entails. And before that important milestone, there's another delicious taste of freedom awaiting Alice and her friends -- a class trip to New York City, promising some serious partying once chaperones have gone to bed.
But sophomore year and driving lessons are a lot harder than Alice thought they would be, and then there's the problem with her new boyfriend, who is sometimes too attached to her. The older Alice gets, the more complicated her life seems to become.
Chapter 1: Going Out
My dad's relatives live in Tennessee. Once, on a trip, we stopped in Bristol for lunch. The manager had a clip-on tag with the word Necessary on it. Dad smiled at him and said, "I see you're the indispensable one around here."
The manager smiled back and said, "It's my last name. There are lots of us in Bristol."
Lester, my brother, didn't believe him and checked the phone directory on the way out. "There are twenty-seven listed!" he said. "Imagine going through life as Mr. Necessary."
I guess I was thinking about that last Sunday, a January morning so cold that small puddles of icy water collected on the windowsills. Lester came by for brunch, and Dad placed a big dollop of applesauce on each plate beside the pecan pancakes he makes on weekends. It reminded me of the applesauce they served in that restaurant down in Tennessee.
"Mr. Necessary," I said, grinning at Dad. "What would we do without you to make pancakes for us on Sunday mornings?"
Dad smiled. "I guess you'd make them yourselves--no one's indispensable."
"Not even Sylvia?" I asked. My new stepmom was still asleep upstairs. She likes sleeping in on weekends.
The skin at the corners of Dad's eyes crinkled. "Except Sylvia," he said, and smiled some more.
I decided to go for it. "If anything happened to me, you'd miss me. Admit it."
Les paused, fork in hand. "Sure we would! I'd say, 'Hey, Dad, you remember that strawberry blonde who used to hang around here--old what's-her-name?'"
I kicked at him under the table and reached for the syrup. I'd sure miss Lester, I know that. I even miss that he doesn't live here anymore, even though he's in an apartment only ten minutes away and drops by a few times a week. Lester moved out because he got this great deal on an apartment he's sharing with two other guys. He says he comes by for the pancakes, but I think he misses us. We're the only family he has, after all. I'm his only sibling! Don't tell me I'm not indispensable!
"Lester," I said, "no matter where you are, you're always part of this family."
"Huh?" said Lester.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder," I said. "It just makes us appreciate you more when you come over."
"Glad to hear it," said Lester. "You don't really want that second sausage, do you?" He reached over and forked one of them off my plate.
"Go ahead," I told him. "You can be as cool and blase as you want, but you know how important we are to you."
"Yeah, right!" said Lester.
I got up to read the comics in the living room, and as I left the table he said to Dad, "Now, what did she say her name was again?"
He's impossible! I settled down on the couch with my feet tucked under my robe and thought about the new semester. I was still trying to get used to having my seventh-grade English teacher upstairs in Dad's bed. To Dad and Sylvia's plans to remodel our house. To wearing braces. To not being Patrick's girlfriend anymore. But there were also four big things to look forward to: the Jack of Hearts dance (providing I had a date); a school trip to New York; my sixteenth birthday; and--best of all--my driver's license.
When Lester came through the living room, I said, "You haven't forgotten your promise to teach me to drive, have you?"
"Not when you remind me three or four times a week," he said. "I've got a big paper due the middle of February, though. Wait till the weather's warmer. Then we'll do it."
My brother's in grad school, working on his master's in philosophy. Dad wonders what kind of job he can possibly get with that. Les says he'll sit cross-legged on a mountaintop and people will pay to climb up there and ask him the meaning of life.
"My birthday's in May," I reminded him. "If I'm going to get my license then, I have to take a thirty-hour driver's ed course first. And I don't want to sign up for that until you teach me some of the basics. I don't want to embarrass myself hugely and crash into something."
"Al, if I taught you to drive a Sherman tank and insured you through Lloyd's of London, you'd still probably run into something," Lester said. "Yes, I'll give you some driving lessons, but it won't be in my car."
Would it be in Dad's car then? I wondered. He'd traded in his old Honda for a new one--automatic transmission, the works. Could I see him letting me learn to drive in that?
Didn't anyone understand how important this was to me? Being able to drive, to just get in a car and take off, was a basic human need! I had to drive! I needed to drive! I wanted to transform myself into an exciting new version of me--a woman with car keys in her jeans.
I threw back my head and wailed, "I want to shed this skin and fly, Lester!"
"Well, do it in the bathroom, please," Les said.
Of course, I didn't think about driving all the time. There were other things on my mind: algebra, our school newspaper, stage crew. A lot of the time I thought about Pamela Jones. Worried about her, you could say.
It's funny about Pamela. Back in sixth grade I used to think she was the girl who had it all. Blond hair so long she could sit on it. She could sing. She could dance. I was jealous as anything. But sometime last year she started losing confidence in herself. She dropped out of Drama Club because she didn't think she was good enough to get a part in the musical. I told her if she didn't sign up for Drama Club this semester, I'd write her name on the sign-up sheet myself, and I did.
It's not like I have this great storehouse of self-confidence. I can't even carry a tune. I'm a B student, average height and weight, an okay figure--nothing great. But the only way I'm going to find out what to do with my life is to try different things and see what I do best. What I enjoy the most. So I'm part of the stage crew for high school productions. I'm a roving reporter for our newspaper, The Edge. I work part-time at my dad's music store, and I run a couple of times a week--just put on my sweats and running shoes and use that time to work things out in my head.
Sam Mayer is one of the student photographers for our newspaper. I've known him since we were in Camera Club together back in eighth grade. We were dissecting frogs once in our life science class, and on my birthday he gave me a tiny box with a frog's heart in it and a note that read, I'd give you my own, but I need it.
He's sixteen already so he's got his license, but he doesn't have a car--shares one with his mom.
We ran into each other in the hall as I left American History on Tuesday and headed for algebra. "I liked your article, Alice," he told me. Each person on the newspaper staff had been given the assignment to do an in-depth feature article to use in future issues. I'd titled mine "Who Says?" It was about the sort of mindless things we do--traditions, maybe--whether we want to or not. Who says that the guests have to stand when the bride comes down the aisle, for example? Who says she has to have a diamond engagement ring? Who says we have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving or be with someone special on New Year's Eve? Who says?
"Thanks," I said. "I've had a lot of good feedback on it. The last I heard, you were going to write a story on how it feels to break up."
"Dumb idea," Sam said. "Everybody would know I was talking about Jennifer and me. I've decided to do a three-part photo-essay: Where we go when we're not in school, what we do to earn money, and what we give back to the community."
"Sounds good," I told him.
"I'm working on the first part now--where we go outside of school--and thought I'd head for the mall this weekend, take some pictures, ask a few questions....I could use a helper, though. Wanna come?"
"Sure, why not? When?" I said.
"Can't. I work for Dad on Saturdays."
"Friday night, then?"
"Okay," I said.
"I heard you're going out with Sam Mayer on Friday," Elizabeth said to me in the cafeteria.
I stared. "I'm just helping him with a piece he's doing for The Edge. He only asked me forty minutes ago! How did you know?"
"I heard him telling Patrick."
"Patrick?" I said. "Why?"
"I guess Patrick and some of the guys from band are playing for a faculty dinner Friday night. Patrick asked Sam if the newspaper was going to cover it."
"And Sam said he didn't know, but they'd have to get another photographer because he was going to the mall with you."
Was I glad that Patrick would think I was going out with Sam now? I wondered. Probably.
"Well, Patrick had his chance," said Pamela. "All he thinks about anymore are books."
"Band and books," said Elizabeth.
"Band and books and track," I added.
Elizabeth Price is one of the most beautiful girls in school, but she doesn't know it. She could be chosen Miss America and she still wouldn't believe it. She's got long dark hair and eyelashes to match. Of the four of us--Elizabeth, Pamela, Gwen, and me--she's the only one with a boyfriend, a guy she met at camp last summer who lives in Pennsylvania. Gwen met someone too. For a while she was going out with a guy named Joe, but he goes to another school, and finally that just fizzled.
"We're pathetic," said Pamela, reading my thoughts. She was eating a salad with so much dressing that the green part looked like a garnish. "Not one of us has a date for the Jack of Hearts. We don't even have boyfriends, and Elizabeth's doesn't count because she hardly ever sees Ross."
"We could hang around the Silver Diner and hope somebody picks us up," Gwen joked. She just had her hair done in a circular pattern of cornrows and looked fabulous. She probably would get picked up. "If nobody asks me by the weekend, I'm going to invite a guy from my church."
"I'll probably invite Brian," mused Pamela.
"Brian?" I said, laughing. "Pamela, I can remember when you said you'd never, ever forgive him because he ruined your wedding night."
Gwen turned. "What?"
I saw Elizabeth smiling. She remembered too.
"What did he do?" Gwen prodde... --このテキストは、マスマーケット版に関連付けられています。商品の説明をすべて表示する
On the family front, her father is now joyfully married to Sylvia and her older brother Lester has moved out of the house. Alice misses him, but things at home have never been better. And when Lester begins dating a girl of another race just as an old flame is tying the knot, you have to wonder what will happen at the wedding . . .
Meanwhile Alice herself has begun dating Sam, the shy photographer who's had his eye on her since the 8th grade! His patience has paid off, and Naylor's descriptions of their relationship make it hard to believe that she's a day over sixteen herself. But Patrick is still calling, and Alice herself is torn about her feelings for Sam. She feels so split already between family, extra curriculars, academic work and friends that Sam's demands on her time (not to mention his mother) can be more than a bit trying. And if she wants an example of how awful it can be to have a boyfriend make too many demands on your time, she needs look no further than her drama club friend Faith and Faith's abusive boyfriend Ron.
But then again, what if a boy doesn't pay enough attention to you? As Pamela finds out, no matter what you do with (or to) a boy, it won't guaruntee his affection. And Pamela's quest to make up for not getting positive attention from her separated parents by seeking it out in boys is showing Alice the right way to go wrong in relationships. She has to figure out how to maintain a balance between the two extremes, and it's not easy.
Meanwhile, the school has planned a trip to New York City, and all Alice and her friends want to do is plan a way of sneaking away from the chaperones (one of whom is Pamela's estranged mother!) and enjoying a night on the town. But Alice is also looking forward to that long, dark bus ride back, sitting next to Sam . . .. That's certainly one way to test her feelings!
And somewhere between all of this, Alice has to get her driver's license, deal with her horrible braces, AND suffer through a class her father's making her take at church about intimacy and relationships. What's a girl to do?
The answer is: grow up. And once again, Naylor has crafted a marvelous story in which Alice does a little bit more of just that, leaving readers hungry for another installment in this girl's life. Naylor doesn't shy away from telling it like it is, using the slang terms and frank talk that young people themselves use. Alice's maturity in dealing with her friends, her relationship and her family is evident and she grows with the kind of grace and polish one might wish for one's own daughter.
This series began when I was in the fifth grade, and I've been reading the books ever since. (More than ten years! How time flies . . .) And though I've grown up a bit faster than Alice has, I'll never stop following her life, and I'll always love this fantastic series.
Yet now that they're here, Alice finds, they aren't without their problems, too. Sam is really physical with Alice, and while part of her enjoys how his constant touching makes her feel, another part is beginning to feel smothered by his 24/7 presence. Doesn't he know she just wants to hang out with the girls sometimes?
Then, the long-awaited class trip nearly brings disaster for Alice's best friend Pamela, whose misery over her strained relationship with her mother leads to an act with an older boy that compromises her reputationn. At the same time, the trip proves a redemption for Faith, another friend, whose abuse at the hands of her boyfriend has worried her classmates for months.
Sometimes, all Alice wants is to get behind the wheel of a car and GO! But even that proves not as easy as she thought...
Once again, Naylor nails the thoughts and feelings of a typical teenage girl, making mistakes and discoveries on the unpredictable road to adulthood.
This book was great. READ IT!