YOUR OLD PAL, AL by Constance C. Greene


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You'll hardly recognize old Al. What with playing dress-up, spinning show-biz fantasies, and (especially) mooning for a letter from Brian, the boy she met at her father's wedding in I Know You, Al (1975), she's no longer flashing her high IQ--nor, despite her scorn for the rockettes, is her vaunted nonconformity in evidence. Here, instead of a brittle, snappy kid with some broken-home insecurity tucked away, Al is transparently love-hungry and difficult. She checks the mail every day and mulls over her chances between deliveries, but neither Brian's promised letter nor the promised invitation from her father's new family is forthcoming. Worse, Al's best friend--the nameless narrator--is putting up another friend, Polly, while Polly's parents are in Africa; and though Al is invited for dinner and sleep-overs, she clearly feels displaced. As a result Al is short with her friend, who in turn is short with Polly--but after the jubilant celebration when Al's invitation does come through, there are apologies all round and some wise talk about the strains of friendship. This thread is well handled, and Al's followers will want to see her through this phase, but Greene gives her too few good lines here and too many breaks at the end: instead of stopping with the invitation, a postcard from Brian follows on its heels--and, in the same mail, the unfortunate pathetic note that Al had agonized over and finally mailed off to him is returned for postage due.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1979
Publisher: Viking