In a light and gently humorous romance, self-centered Alice learns to run, to cope with disappointment and to consider other people’s feelings.
Alice is heartsick after Yale rejects her Early Action application. However, as a family friend both wise and wisecracking points out in a heavy-handed but nonetheless insightful speech, her crushed feeling is less about Yale itself than about not having gotten her own way. Stubborn, snarky and sometimes glaringly un–self-aware, Alice has a smart retort for everything her mom, dad or family friend Walter tries to tell or offer her. She is kinder to Jenni, the best friend for whom Alice’s parents serve as a sort of surrogate family, but astute readers will notice the imbalances in the pair’s relationship long before Jenni herself points them out. What keeps readers engaged with Alice is her devotion to her beloved pet rat, a comical, curious and deeply lovable creature also named Walter, who inspires enthusiastic and endearing rat-related asides to readers. As Alice follows up on her hastily made New Year’s resolution to start running and meets the kind and driven head of a running shop as well as a down-to-earth and dreamy boy runner, her growth is palpable. Lessons—of the life-skills variety and the SAT-vocabulary variety—are many, but the vibrant characters and lively dialogue make them easy to digest.
Warm, funny and wise. (Fiction. 12-18)