Opened Up My Questions


I’ve been meaning to write to you for a long time. Every time I’ve put down an Alice book after reading it (I usually need to finish your books in one or two sittings), I feel so compelled to tell you what it meant to me. 
I’ve always felt a strange connection to Alice. Although perhaps conceitedly, I see myself a lot in her. In coincidences: I was born in Silver Spring, it sounds like I look like her, I was editor of my school newspaper, and I started writing a story about two girls named “Molly and Faith” before I even read Simply Alice. I also believe I enjoy reading about her experiences not only because they’re written humorously or realistically, but because she acts like me in some cases—the good and the bad. We both worry when we shouldn’t, we try to keep an open mind, we tend to overreact, and we compare ourselves unfairly to our brainiac boyfriends! But I’m still aspiring to be as courageous a heroine as the one you have given me all these years. 
And like Alice, I am not sure at all what I believe, religiously speaking. Especially after having lost. Thankfully, I do not share with her the tragedy of losing a mother. But after finishing Intensely Alice minutes ago and sobbing, I realize I feel even more in touch with her. 
I can’t say what it feels like to lose a friend. Losing a loved one is different for everyone. But the recurring feelings of grief overwhelmed me as I read your book. You captured it all for me. Too well even. I think I’ve suppressed some of my questions of death, God, and fate but you’ve opened them up again for me. A good friend of mine lost a very good friend of hers in a car accident. I tried to understand her grief while I comforted her but it was hard to feel a loss when he had had no place in my life before. 
But a month later, at nearly the same time as —— died, I lost someone I still love today. My family’s small already and to lose my one aunt, the one who brought so much life into our daily lives, was devastating. 
The story you’ve created intertwining these teens and their families aren’t just stories. You’ve created a place for your readers we can believe. That’s why it struck me so hard…I honestly never cry after reading a book like I just did. I know you remember what it feels like to be our age, and I also know you know what feels like to grieve. What I don’t learn from my mother, I learn from you. Thank you for not only entertaining me all these years with the Alice books, but being a comfort and guidance. I promise to continue reading this series even when I start college this fall! 
Phyllis replied:

I really appreciated your letter.  I still can’t read one of those scenes aloud without tearing up, so the death affected me too.  I’m probably working out some repressed grief in myself for relatives I’ve lost over the years, especially for my sister.  I’m glad you’ll go on reading Alice after you’ve gone to college.  I hear from many college students who say that the Alice books go right along with them and find a place in their dorm rooms.

Posted on: July 4, 2009


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