The newest entry in a series that sits proudly in second place on the ALA’s list of Most Banned/Challenged titles of the 21st century (behind Harry) takes its insecure but sensible 17-year-old narrator through her final semester of high school.
Alice navigates past such fixed points as Senior Prom, Prank Day and graduation as well as more personal triumphs and tribulations, from getting one of those flat business envelopes from her first-choice college to finding out that her boyfriend Patrick will be spending the next year in Spain. As ever, Naylor-as-Alice fills the interstices with teachable moments including (but not limited to) the short-lived appearance of a “Restricted Reading” shelf in the school library, watching an older co-worker and her loving husband with their new baby, coping with stress-related insomnia, attending a pregnant classmate’s baby shower and wedding and reacting to a friend’s admission that she’s saving up for a labiaplasty. It's all embedded in a milieu of quotidian detail, familiar characters and memories from previous episodes that add both continuity and a matter-of-fact credibility to the advice and insight.
The author leaves Alice and friends posing for graduation pictures and looking forward to pre-college summer jobs aboard a cruise ship that will frame the next few volumes in this richly entertaining, reliable and informative guide to growing up. (Fiction. 13-15)