These Books Made Me

Alice in April

May 05, 2022 Prince George's County Memorial Library System Season 2 Episode 6
These Books Made Me
Alice in April
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode we are diving into one of the books in the comprehensive Alice series (25 books!) by children's literature paragon Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Alice in April covers one very dramatic month in the life of Alice McKinley. Journey with us and Alice through the awkwardness of middle school, complete with inappropriate nicknaming and sick burns about genitalia. We discuss some of the tough topics contained in this book, including death of a parent, child abuse, and suicide. While there are some heavy topics in the book, we also explore some lighter subjects and find out that one of our hosts retained virtually nothing from social studies class and another has a history of wearing lingerie over her clothes instead of under. We consult an expert on the state of Wyoming to find out why being named Wyoming might be a real compliment.

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped us and is a product of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System podcast network. Stay in touch with us via Twitter @PGCMLS with #TheseBooksMadeMe or by email at TheseBooksMadeMe@pgcmls.info. For recommended readalikes and deep dives into topics related to each episode, visit our blog at https://pgcmls.medium.com/.

We cover some tough topics in this episode and in lieu of links to articles, we'd like to share some resources for anyone who needs them:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 1-800-273-8255

Childhelp Hotline: https://childhelphotline.org/   1-800-422-4453

National Runaway Safeline: https://www.1800runaway.org/ 1-800-RUNAWAY

Hawa:

Hi, I'm Hawa

Heather:

I'm Heather

Kelsey:

And I'm Kelsey.

Hawa:

And this is our podcast, These Books Made Me. Today we're gonna be talking about Alice in April by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Friendly warning as always, this podcast contains spoilers. If you don't yet know what Elizabeth meant to say what she said someday, you'll get another one, proceed with caution. Also this book contains discussions of mature topics, including sexuality, child abuse, and suicide. And this episode is rated T for Teen We have a special guest here with us today. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Teresa:

Hi, I'm Teresa. I'm a librarian with the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. And I've worked here for almost five years. So to start us off as always with a discussion of what this book means to each of us, I'll go first for that. So I read these books when I was in middle school and like early high school and just absolutely devoured them. My parents did like a little bit of light censorship on what I read, but these were not on the radar at all. So I felt like I was getting away with something. Yeah, they were a big part of like how I accessed conversations about like changes in middle school, being curious about sex, just general middle school angst, all of

Kelsey:

That. So each of us get to like pick what one book that we'll talk about. And this was the book that I picked for this season, because it was like life changing for me. I totally agree with you Teresa. It was like the book that taught me what it means to be a grownup. I felt like, or like what that resonated with the feelings I was having at the time about what I thought it might mean to be a grownup. And I definitely felt like I was sneakily getting like some inappropriate material or something reading back. It's not even that like inappropriate, but at the time I was like, Ooh.

Heather:

I was pretty sure I had read this book, but now I think maybe I stopped the Alice series prior to this book. And then just like read the Wikipedia on what happened to Alice afterwards, because it did not. Once I was in it, I was like, okay, I don't remember any of this vividly, but then like I remembered the state thing, whatever chunk of I read was like middle schoolish and yeah, that same sort of feeling of like, oh, Hey, this is very relatable. And this speaks to me on some level. And I don't know, it's kind of like the book version of like Seventeen magazine or something.

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Hawa:

As always. It's your girl Hawa, the one who has never read most of these books growing up. So this is my first time reading it, but you know, I kind of wish I had a book like this to read growing up or, well, I guess it was there. I just didn't know about it. I wish I knew about it. I think it would've been really interesting to me.

Kelsey:

All right. Well, let's , uh , give you a little plot summary, let you know what happens in this book. So Alice McKinley is about to turn 13 and according to her aunt Sally, this means she's going to be Woman of the House soon. Capital W, capital H. Now Alice feels like she must add worries, like cleaning out the heating ducts and mending her single father and girl-crazy brother Lester's torn clothes to her list on top of the normal stressors like schoolwork and deciding what to put in the school time capsule. On top of all of this boys at school have begun naming girls after states to represent their physical development or lack thereof. When Alice tries to plan a surprise party for her father's 50th birthday, with the help of her dad's unquote special friend, her language arts teacher, things go wrong in a every possible way. And when an unexpected and tragic event happens, Alice finds herself growing up in ways that put all her other worries in perspective.

Heather:

Okay. So I did a little research on the author. I was very intrigued to find out about her because she is an older woman. Now she's almost 90 and she continues to write, that she's been writing at a breakneck pace for a long time. So I'm just fascinated by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was born in small town, Anderson Indiana in 1933. So great depression. Her parents read allowed to her every night and she credits this for her love of writing and storytelling. She began writing stories as a young girl and as a teen tried to sell her stories to popular magazines like Highlights and Seventeen. But after receiving numerous rejections, she shoved her writing plans to take on secretarial work, to support herself and her first husband who suffered from severe mental illness, an experience she writes about in her book, Crazy Love. They ultimately divorced. And at the age of 30, she was finally able to graduate from American University. She had two children with her new husband, Rex Naylor, and decided to pursue writing full time. Seeing her first children's book, The Galloping Goat published in 1965 since then, Naylor has never stopped writing. She's published over 140 books. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is perhaps best known for her Alice series, following a girl from the age of 11 to 60, over the course of over 25 books in multiple prequels and for her Shiloh series about an abused beagle and the boy who rescues him. Reynolds Naylor has received an array of awards, including the Newbery award for Shiloh, an avid blogger. She's maintained a blog dedicated to reader questions, about the Alice books for multiple decades. And she continues to answer readers on her WordPress. She also continues to write books at the age of 89, still writing her first two drafts in longhand before typing them into her computer.

Kelsey:

All right. Let's jump in on our discussion. So we always like to start off with just thinking about kind of generally, how did we feel like these books have held up over the almost 30 years since they came out? I almost said 20, but the nineties were 30 years ago. <laugh>

Hawa:

[laugh]

Kelsey:

What do you think?

Teresa:

I mean, there's definitely stuff that dates this particular book in the series. Like the advice that Alice gets from her aunt that who tells her that she needs to be the Woman of the House now, like even, even for when it was written in the nineties, that was pretty archaic advice to give out.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Teresa:

And even more so now, like, I don't think anyone's aunt, I hope no one's aunt [laugh] in this day and age would tell a 13 year old that she needs to step up and be the Woman of the House.

Kelsey:

Right.

Hawa:

That's my thing. Like she's 13 and she's like, yeah, you need to deal. And some of the stuff that she was listing was like, yeah, you gotta rake the leaves and clean out the gutters and do all this. I don't.

Heather:

Right. Like, why is she doing all the home maintenance?

Hawa:

Then when, what was it? What was it? The furnace company that called? And she's like, yeah, hold on. I thought she was just gonna take her dad's checkbook and write the check. So I'm glad she asked him

Kelsey:

Or the distillated fribulator. [laugh]

Heather:

Glad she was Lester then that was pretty good. That totally remind me like, so Lester calls and pretends to be like a, a service repair sort of place that say like, ma'am, you're gonna have like major problems if you know, don't take care of this right away. And like, you can hear her like starting to panic because he says this and, and then it's at some point it's point

Kelsey:

It's gonna cost $10 , 000

Heather:

When he says how much it costs. She realizes that he's pranking her [laugh] but it totally reminds me of my friend that used to call Old Navy when I worked there and like, say like I'm having a denim emergency, I need to talk to the denim expert. And they'd always transfer it, to me, [laugh] Like, I dunno, prank calls were a great thing. It dates the book, but like, I'm kind of sad that like cell phones have made prank calls pretty like not a thing now because you can tell who's calling.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, and we we've talked a little bit about like, just thinking about it, feeling dated, the pop culture references went out of date pretty quick. I mean, what's interesting is we've discovered that it has been updated. So did anyone find the original list of,

Heather:

Yeah, let me get to it real quick in the book

Kelsey:

So, the most obvious spot is, is , um, in the book when she's listing the things that she wants to put in I'm capsule.

Heather:

In the addition that we have, which I think was 85, no, no.

Kelsey:

93.

Heather:

95, but it was the 93 was the copyright on it. Right? The things she wanted were a Washington Post newspaper article about the old Soviet Union, Michael Jordan poster, cassette of OPP, some Nike Air Jordan's, campaign literature about county elections, a say no to drugs, bumper sticker, a video cassette of Robin Hood, a McDonald's big Mac wrapper, a Jane Fonda exercise tape and earrings for pierced ears. And actually that is slightly different than another edition from a around the same time that I had that had a, that had changed it to a Michael Jackson poster.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I was gonna say, I remember Michael Jackson [laugh]

Heather:

Yeah.

Hawa:

Maybe they felt the Jordans and the Michael Jordan poster were redundant.

Heather:

Yeah, maybe [laugh].

Hawa:

So my copy that was the 2011 edition says that her 10 things were a Washington Post newspaper article about global warming, a Harry Potter poster, which I think in 2011, I think one of the last movies had came out. I only know that cuz I worked at a movie theater back then.

Kelsey:

I know that because I had to miss the premier night cause I went to my college orientation and I was devastated.

Hawa:

Sounds very responsible. [laugh] a DVD of Lord of the Rings, some Ugg boots campaign literature about the county elections, Montgomery County elections. I'm guessing , uh , [laugh] a Say No to Drugs bumper sticker, a big McDonald's Big Mac wrapper, an LED flashlight. Someone's old iPod and a Silly Band. A like the little bracelets that were like animals?

Kelsey:

I feel like that's very of the time. Yeah.

Hawa:

That

Kelsey:

The LED flashlight though, what?

Heather:

That's odd.

Kelsey:

That's really specific.

Heather:

I like that she kept the county elections literature in for both of them.

Kelsey:

And the Big Mac wrapper

Heather:

She really wanted to make sure

Hawa:

My favorite thing on this list is probably the iPod.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Hawa:

Because my iPod Classic to me even, I think I stopped using my iPod officially like in 2014 and I was very sad that I lost it, but yeah, no, my iPod Classic held me down.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Hawa:

I mean it wasn't holding anybody down in 93 when the book first came out, but you know, whatever.

Kelsey:

The iPod classic was the best because you could wash it by accident like ten times. And it, it was like a tank. It was still making [indistinct] The backlight just died on mine. That was it. The other thing that I think we talked about that was a little weird is the line when she's describing her dad's birthday party and we've checked, this is still in the 2011 edition. She says it was the most awful party that had taken place in Maryland since the Civil War. I feel like I'm that meme of the woman with like the question marks around her face. Like, I don't know what that means. And it feels offensive [laugh]

Heather:

Yeah. The war was not a party [laugh] r.

Hawa:

Right.

Heather:

Yeah.

Hawa:

And so would a kid reading this, get what that's supposed to mean? Like we don't even get it

Heather:

I mean as an adult we don't get it.

Hawa:

Very strange.

Heather:

I don't, I feel like to her, that was a funny joke, but it did not land with literally any other human being. Cause what does it mean?

Kelsey:

I feel like she's just using the Civil War to describe like a time like literally, like it's just the worst party that happened in the past 200 years, but like, it was just a weird marker to pick like.

Hawa:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Strange.

Heather:

Oh, I see what you're saying so she's just saying like in that amount of time, no worst party has wow ok.

Kelsey:

Don't pick the Civil War.

Heather:

That's bizarre phrasing for that. [laugh] I can't even get it even when Kelsey explains to me several times [laugh] wow.

Teresa:

It somehow got through multiple editors though. So

Kelsey:

So, and then the last thing that I would just highlight is that I think the teacher, Miss Summer's/Alice relationship is something that, that comes across a little dated now in a less obvious way. You just wouldn't take a kid to your house if you weren't their teacher.

Hawa:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

You probably wouldn't have a relationship with their dad. And if you did, you probably wouldn't have them in your class anymore. The dynamic is there's nothing inappropriate suggested, but you just would not do that today.

Hawa:

Yeah. I feel like it's something that you used to kind of see on TV a lot.

Kelsey:

Yeah. All right. So let's talk about her family a little bit more. What do we think about her dad, Ben?

Heather:

I mean, he's really loving. He, I think tries really hard to be supportive. You know, he seems pretty unflappable with most of this stuff. I like that he doesn't have the sort of stereotypical guy reaction to like, well, no periods kind of thing. Or la la la with his fingers in his ears. When, and she's trying to talk about like body changes, they seem to have a pretty healthy, frank discussion about puberty and boys and girls. And it seems refreshing to see a father daughter relationship that isn't colored by this sort of sitcommy trope of like, I can't see pink, I'm a guy kind, you know, there's none of that. So that's good. But at the same time, he just doesn't notice that she's trying to take on like all of these home responsibilities and she's putting all this pressure on herself. So that's not great. So kind of mixed.

Kelsey:

I like that. He's not like the hapless widow trope either. It's not like, he's like, oh, my wife died and now I don't know what to do. He says that he learned how to mend clothes when his wife died and it's not, Alice never noticed, so it's not like his dad was like, we're in chaos and I don't know what I'm doing. He just kind of quietly taught himself and figured it out. And she didn't really notice a difference

Teresa:

Except for the housework that Alice puts on herself in this book. Like a lot of the duties are split very evenly through the family like they take turns cooking, even though Alice is not a good cook, but like [laugh], but it also says something that like, her dad gives her that responsibility, but also, you know, is taking it on himself and Lester's taking it on himself too. Yeah. I like that dynamic of just like a shared responsibility for the home until Aunt Sally steps in

Heather:

I like that she has the part-time job at

Hawa:

His music store

Heather:

work, you know, he manages the music store and she does a few hours there on a Saturday. I thought that was nice. He seems to work a lot. And so like a way to spend time with his kid while actually like giving her some responsibilities and pocket money. And I thought that was a, a nice thing about their relationship.

Hawa:

Yeah. They, they seem like they have a really good relationship. I don't know if this is something that was covered in one of the other books, but I, I think that they said not too long after the mom died, they went to go live with the aunt. She went to go live with the aunt for a little bit. Do you know if there was ever a reason for that? Or

Heather:

I thought it made it sound like Aunt Sally kind of moved herself in to take care of them.

Hawa:

Oh, okay.

Kelsey:

Yeah

Heather:

Like that she felt like, oh, well now there's no woman in the house. And like, they're gonna fall to pieces without, I mean, she seems like kind of a busybody anyway. So it seemed like she came to help, but that just turned into her, taking over everything for some period of time.

:

Okay. And that's like, why there's all the confusion about where, who did what Alice isn't sure if it was her mom or if it was Aunt Sally, because she was really little and you know, who was more present then

Kelsey:

What about Lester?

Hawa:

I think Lester is really interesting. [laugh] Like, I like that he has this close relationship with his sister, despite there being such an age range. I think it's also really funny that he has all these girlfriends and that his sister just is in the know about all of them. Because I mean, I guess she's like, she's like 12, so I'm just surprised that she's so in the know, like, you know, not even just the fact that, okay, I have a one girlfriend that, you know, you know, I have all these people that I'm back and forth in between and you know, all my drama with them. And I think it's, it's cute. Yeah.

Kelsey:

To the point that she like calls them and invites them to the birthday party and ask them for life advice. [laugh] They're just part of her world. I

Teresa:

I do love Alice's relationship with, I think its Marilyn and Carol

Kelsey:

And Crystal.

Teresa:

Crystal. Yeah. How in, in one of the earlier books, like the, the core angst of that book is she's trying to find a sense of sisterhood with other women in her life. Cuz she doesn't have a mother and Marilyn and Crystal are like two of the people that she turns to for that. So she's got this like really sweet, supportive relationship, even though they, at this point, hate her brother. [laugh] so much,

Heather:

But like not enough because everything in here, Lester's like, well then I gave her a rose and everything was cool.

Kelsey:

oh my God, Like, a rose? He's getting off. So cheap with like being a total cad with these poor girls. I also totally pictured Lester as the Matthew McConaughey character from Dazed and Confused. I felt like that was the vibe he had. Cuz she said at one point he has the mustache and the like I always pictured his mustache being like very sparse [laugh]

Hawa:

He shows up to the party, you late just for, to show up with another girl that we hadn't even heard of in this book until then, like

Heather:

It was like girl three,

Hawa:

Joy

Heather:

Joy

Hawa:

And then two of them knew each other and they just talked in the corner the whole time. And then sis was mad because she felt like he was making eyes at the other girls.

Heather:

Well, and then the other girl. So the, the non Joy third girl, I can't remember if it was Crystal or Marilyn got stuck with the woman from her dad's work that no one wants to be around for the Loretta party,

Kelsey:

Loretta, was that her name?

Hawa:

Yeah. And they tried to figure out how to like uninvite her and the etiquette book was just like, honestly, you can't

Kelsey:

Cancel the party

Multiple voices:

Cancel the party!

Kelsey:

[laugh] oh my yan , and then what do we think about the idea that her mom isn't in the picture? Like how do we feel like that, does or doesn't really show up in this book or how they handle that dynamic?

Hawa:

I thought it was interesting. I think the fact that she has such a good relationship with her dad and her brother makes it different than maybe other stories. I mean, it's not my experience, but I think that it's interesting that they have such a close relationship to where that she can act, ask questions that she may have ne- initially maybe wanted to ask her mom. I mean, I'm sure she still feels that like let loss, because you know, there's a part where she talks about, you know, her friends often forget that she doesn't have a mom but with Denise, Denise notices, because Denise has this terrible relationship with her mom. I thought that was interesting.

Heather:

I liked that it came up multiple times that she couldn't remember if it was her mom or Aunt Sally in a, in a memory that she had. Because I think that that was a really, maybe not unique, but it it's definitely not the normal way that losses looked at in children's literature where often it feels like the person who's gone is held up as this sort of icon to the person that lost. And that's not here. Like this seems like a much more authentic picture of what loss would be like if you lost your mom, when you were four, you would have very few memories by this age and they would be fuzzy. And, and so the experience she has of trying to deal with that, like you do feel some grief from Alice about that more so even than grief about her mom, it's the loss of the notion of her mom upsets her. And that comes up repeatedly. The loss of her mom is per present in her life every day. But not in a, like, it's devastating. I'm gonna go cry on, on my bed.

Kelsey:

She's like hopefully adjusted to this.

Heather:

She's aware of it.

Kelsey:

Grief. Yeah.

Heather:

You know that, that would make you stick out as a kid that age she's probably the only person she knows that does not have a mother, you know, not having a dad is very different. Lots of people have single mothers raising them. Lots of people may have a dad that's sort of sporadically in the picture, but most kids aren't missing their mom. And so for her, that probably is a source of self consciousness. I thought it was a really nuanced way of looking at the loss of a parent that wasn't so I don't know, sentimental as often children, it wasn't as maudlin. Yeah.

Teresa:

I agree with what you were saying, uh, just that, like, it's the absence of like a model for Alice. Like she's constantly looking for examples of what it means to be a girl becoming a woman. And she always has to look outside of her own home for that. So she's looking to her teacher and putting that pressure on her dad's relationship with her teacher as part of that, she's, you know, reaching out to Aunt Sally for advice, reaching out to the women in Lester's life. It's yeah. Less of a personal mourning and more just needing some kind of model to follow.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Hawa:

Then there's the one part where she has a memory that comes to mind. And I think it was a piece of advice. She gave her friend and she's like, where did I get that from? And then she's like, like, oh, I think that was something that my mom told me. And she she's just really like recognizing that that's a, a memory that she has. And she was so excited about that memory coming back to her. So that was a thing because it was like, well, she doesn't necessarily remember everything, but the feeling that she got when she had that one memory come back to her, it was kind of touching.

Kelsey:

I, I think I really felt her grief when she was making the cake with her teacher.

Teresa:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

And she had had that conversation with her aunt, like, oh, it's weird to have someone else make your mom's special cake recipe. That was your dad's favorite. But like, it's good for him. But like, it just feels weird and she's in the house making it with her and she's like, I just wanna ask her to be my mom. you just, you just, your heart breaks a little bit for her there because you, you totally understand why she would want that. And she has this person who kind of is stepping into that in a little bit for her, but

Heather:

I was so mad at Aunt Sally about that, by the way, when she was like, that's really weird for, you know, for you guys to make your mom's cake with this other woman and kind of guilting her I thought Alice's comeback, which was, how am I gonna forget her? If I'm using her recipe book with her name on it and her writing, it was a great comeback to that. But it's, you're a flipping adult lady. Like why are you putting this on a kid?

Hawa:

It's been how many years?

Heather:

Like, that's not okay.

Teresa:

Yeah. I don't understand why Alice keeps reaching out to Aunt Sally, because I mean, if it was, if it was just .

Heather:

She's the worst!

Teresa:

If Aunt Sally was like the only woman in her family that would make sense, but Aunt Sally has a daughter who's a little bit older than Lester who Alice could be calling for advice

Heather:

I f they have a relationship, I don't know why she's not calling. She mentions her. Carol is that her name?

Teresa:

I think so. Yeah. Carol is in some of the earlier books and she gives really good advice. Like I just, I don't know why she's not calling her.

Heather:

Yeah. That's rough. And one other thing that was in this, that again, I just thought was a really non stereotypical look at loss of a parent. Of course you would miss things like making a cake and like cooking together and those types of things that are sort of seen as the obvious mother, daughter, bonding activities, the mending, things like that. But I thought it was really interesting. There's a scene where she's in school and she's looking at Ms. Summers, who is her. Like, I wish she could be my mom. You know, the lady that's dating her dad. She's looking at her figure and thinking about like how beautiful she is. She's basically like, I hope my boobs are like hers. When I grow up, she has perfect boobs. But then she's, I think at dinner with her dad and she's wondering, most girls can look at their mom and say like, well, I kind of look like my mom, when I grow up, I might look like her. She doesn't have that. And so she's kind of circling around this, like, did mom have good boobs question? Which she does eventually get to, But like

Kelsey:

And he's like, yes, just eat your peas. [laugh].

Heather:

Yeah, That's fine. You know, like That was a fine response, but like missing something like that. I thought that was a really good piece of writing because that is the kind of weird specificity of things you lose. And those are the things that get you about missing somebody. It's the weird thing. Right? and so like not having that seemed like a really nice illustration of how much you lose when you don't have your mom in your life anymore.

Kelsey:

I guess, to just kind of round out thinking about the kind of, of main characters we had some questions about. I think we wanted to talk a little bit about the Patrick/Alice dynamic and how awkward [laugh] we found it.

Teresa:

He's a sweet guy.

Heather:

Yeah. Poor Patrick

Hawa:

She's like, yeah, What, what state am I, what, please help me like tell them, give, tell them to gimme a state. And doesn't he say, he, he picked Maine because he liked the fishing there. So

Kelsey:

He went float fishing

Heather:

He had a nice trip There with his family. So he associated with something that was beautiful to him. And then she got all mad About, he's like the only guy not sexually harassing the entire school. And

Kelsey:

She's mad about it

Teresa:

Yeah,

Kelsey:

[laugh]

Heather:

Yeah, poor Patrick. He reminded me a lot of Sport from Harriet the Spy where it's like, this kid is so mature and seems, you know, just really a lot more together than anyone else, his age that's represented in the book. And then she just is kind of a jerk to him at times in the book where it's like, he came and like cooked this whole gourmet dinner for your dad. And

Kelsey:

I know, and they trust him so much that literally they're like, oh yeah, the furnace people are coming. You and Patrick just stay in the house by yourself. Right. [laugh] Yeah. I felt weird for Patrick cuz, Teresa, you explained, and I kind of remember this that they dated briefly and they and they kind of broke it off and you can just feel that they're in this like middle space between friendship and something else. And it's like, it's like her special friend [laugh].

Hawa:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Her dad has a special friend, she has a special friend. Strange [laugh]

Teresa:

I, I think like they don't go into this a whole lot in this book, but I do think in her mind, she's gonna get back to him. Yeah. Like she does care about him a lot and the way they ended things is just her saying, I'm not ready for this right now, but I don't wanna just toss you aside either.

Kelsey:

Alright. Let's get into the juicy bits. Oh yeah. [laugh] so we kind of talked about how, for those of us who read it as a kid, this really was like an introduction to/about bodies and puberty and what it means to grow up. How did we kind of find that piece of it coming back to it?

Teresa:

There was less of it in this particular book than I remembered it definitely amps up as the series goes along, but I mean, this book's been banned for it, so it's definitely there, but you know, guys at school making a big deal about it too. But like, I mean, as far as curiosity about sex goes, it's really not that extreme.

Heather:

Yeah. It's it's tame like all things considered, but at the same time, it's still more substantial than Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret was, it's also a lot healthier than.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Heather:

Than that book was, which still had a whole lot of external shaming going on and a whole lot of anxiety about everything going on. Yes. There's anxiety about whose, you know, developed first and who the boys think is Wyoming

Kelsey:

Mountainous. [laugh]

Heather:

But generally the body questions, the body anxiety it's present throughout the whole book. Like it, it really is a through-line in the book, but it's a pretty healthy and accurate depiction of it. I think, where like, you are kind of obsessed with it at that age.

Kelsey:

Oh yeah.

Heather:

Cause like there's all kinds of stuff going on with you and you are looking at the other girls in the locker room and in either direction wanting the thing you don't have. I think the boys are obsessed with it at that age to the point that it does become harassment. Everybody dealt with getting their bra strapped snapped or something that should not have been okay. And it certainly would be accurate for the time that the boys were just unchecked talking about everybody's boobs. Like

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's just like an eye roll kind of thing rather than,

Hawa:

Which is why, like, I think it's funny when books get banned for content like this for when, especially when they say things like that, it's not age appropriate because I'm just a like, yo, have you met middle schoolers? Like they're absolutely doing all these things in the book and probably using way worse language. I know kids were cussing in middle school, like

Kelsey:

Which is why I, I don't get that when people, I know like I'm preaching to the choir here, but like I don't get when people don't want that to be in the book cuz I'd rather be it there and like have some healthy portrayals of like wow, this is how stressing out the girls for you to talk like this or think like this, like maybe I could rethink my actions or like I'm a girl experiencing this. And like, I can see it's relatable that, you know, I would feel this way about it. You know

Heather:

Or even seeing it happening to the characters gives you enough distance to be like, wait, that's not okay. But that would stress me out too. Then thinking about your own life. Well, Hey, that's not really okay when the boys do this thing to me.

Kelsey:

Wait a second.

Heather:

Yeah,

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Hawa:

Or you can get some good comebacks. No, I'm kidding.

Heather:

True. So we should talk about that comeback. Cause I'll say when I got to that part of the book, I was like, dang, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor just went there with a testicle burn. Like she just outta nowhere is like, we're just gonna drop this little insult about an undescended testicle. There we

?:

Pun intended

Heather:

I was like, okay, We went there,

Kelsey:

She dropped the, the, I can't, I can't do it .

Teresa:

I'll do it. She dropped that joke like an undescended testicle.

Kelsey:

Yeah [laughter] Yeah. And you know, what's funny is I very distinctly remember that joke, but I did not remember that it was in this book. I don't know where I thought I got it from, but when I read it, I was like, oh, that's been in my head for a long time. [laugh] that goes all the way back.

Teresa:

I joke, never left my head.

Kelsey:

And I like that. She, we didn't talk about this with Lester, but like not only is she comfortable talking to her dad about this stuff, but she can ask Lester about it too. And he doesn't make her feel weird either.

Heather:

So he just gave her that sick burn

Kelsey:

<laugh> he's like

Hawa:

The dad explains it though. I think the dad Explains

Heather:

Dad has to explain it after Lester's just like, you wanna wreck a guy, go with this.

Kelsey:

Yeah, And then, then Elizabeth says,

Heather:

[laughing]...no idea what they're talking about

Kelsey:

S omeday. What did she say, someday, you'll get another one.

Heather:

Someday you'll get another one [laugh]

Kelsey:

And then, and then Alice has to explain to her what she just said. She's like devastated.

Teresa:

I love that when Alice tells Lester what Elizabeth actually said and how she like messed it up, and Lester thinks it's hilarious. And he's like, that's so much. Cause I was gonna be wondering what he's gonna get. Like what other one, what is he [obscured by laughter]

Hawa:

So isn't Elizabeth the one that's like freaked out that her mom's pregnant because like she's like, and people will know that she was having sex [laugh] but like

Heather:

Didn't you have like a friend like that at some point who was just like kind of simpler with everything?

Hawa:

[laugh]

Heather:

They really thought that like you could tell how many sex - times that married couple had sex because they had like four kids. So they must have done it four times because God knows you wouldn't do it more than you have to. And that's like, totally. Elizabeth's like viewpoint on the part where she tells her, even the pope's parents did it Elizabeth. And she's like, oh, well you've given me a lot to think about, I guess it's okay.

Hawa:

I know she's like maybe I'll have like one kid.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

:

Just to see what she's like. Maybe I'll get married. Maybe I'll have one kid just to see what it's like, so, okay, cool. You're gonna have sex once.

Kelsey:

The kid, the kid could be the next Pope, you know?

Heather:

And Elizabeth is so like proactively concerned about all of these things. Like she's very worried about vomiting in front of a spouse someday.

Kelsey:

That was a funny conversation in general where they're like, she doesn't, what were they saying? Like they wouldn't ask their husband to go get a Kotex and she's like, yeah. But what if you have to shop for a jockstrap for him? [laugh] and I just think it's funny. They couldn't think of like an equivalent. So they're like a jock strap Like you buy all the time

Hawa:

[laugh] they were, and then they were embarrassed to say, they were like, okay, well what type of tampon do you need? She's like, super plus??!!

Multiple people:

[laugh]

Hawa:

Like man if that's what you need, that's what you need.

Teresa:

Oh, bless Elizabeth's heart. In one of the earlier books, this is another great example of how Alice's dad is just like cool with this stuff and really supportive of like bodies in a healthy way. Elizabeth's super anxious about how she's never seen a boy naked. And Alice is like going through National Geographic magazines, trying to like find some stuff for Elizabeth to look at. And her dad sees her with all these pages, like bookmarked. And he's like, okay, you know what? We're just gonna go to the library and get a medical encyclopedia and you can give this to Elizabeth. And it was just like a really supportive moment. Like [laugh] like no shame about it. Just acknowledging this curiosity and giving like a healthy way to approach it.

Heather:

Well, he really seems to get Elizabeth too, because in this book that he like tells Alice, you know, sometimes totally normal people have a kid that's just freaked out about everything [laugh]. It happens.

Kelsey:

My favorite thing about Elizabeth is like, the way they introduce her in this book is like you come into her house and there's just the giant picture of her praying [laugh]

Teresa:

I had a sleepover at someone's house like that. I have a very clear picture in my mind. <laugh>

Kelsey:

It really sets you up to really understand who she is as a person. [laugh[

Teresa:

I feel like her parents didn't realize just what they were doing to her either with like, like she's been getting all these, all this messaging about bodies and stuff from her own mom and then her mom gets pregnant. She's like, how could you, who is like, made me feel so self-conscious about my own body. Like go and do it.

Multiple people:

[laugh]

Heather:

Like, how do you have

Multiple voices:

[unintelligible]

Heather:

Everyone knows.

Teresa:

Yeah.

Hawa:

Even to the point where like, she'll be out with her mom in public and walk like steps behind, her steps ahead so people can't tell they're together.

Heather:

You don't wanna be affiliated with the pregnant lady. Yeah. That was so extreme

Kelsey:

Well, I think the other thing, the other like body related thing that we really liked in this book was the doctor's, the trip to the doctor's office. I think speaking of this idea of like portraying like a healthy relationship with your body and like, especially like consent and boundaries in this, in learning about your body. I think the doctor's visit does a really good job of showing like what you should expect, what kind of hinting at what wouldn't be appropriate and doing it in a way that like, kind of feels like an after school special, but you don't realize that you're like reading something so educational, like it's entertaining still.

Heather:

Yeah. It's not like the doctor says I'm gonna do this and then this, and then this, and then this he's doing it while he is talking. So you get the sort of, he's doing the thing that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is also doing in the book. Right. so it's, it's burying the stuff that needs to happen underneath this sort of veneer of like.

Kelsey:

My kids play soccer

Heather:

We're gonna distract you. Yeah. And I do think that that's a really important, you know, they depict the exam as having a chaperone in the room, which should always happen. I really liked seeing this in a book for a kid this age, because I think to me it just brought up the whole scandal with Larry Nasser and the gymnast. If a girl knows, I should expect there to be a chaperone in the room, I should expect that I don't need a pelvic exam at 13, unless I am having like serious issues. I think setting like realistic and healthy expectations of what a patient/doctor relationship at that age should look like is really important. I also did like that the doctor was seeing her by herself. I mean, obviously she didn't have a parent there with her. She went with Lester, so he wouldn't have been in the room. But I think that giving kids the autonomy at that age to like know that I can talk to the doctor one on one about what's going on with me. If it's something that I'm like uncomfortable to talk to my parents about. So like giving that outlet too, I thought was, it was cool. And you know, it, it accomplished a tick, a box on the like here are healthy boundaries, consent issues with your body that maybe don't get talked about as much because I do think things get lost.

Kelsey:

And I mean, she's at the age where like most girls do stop seeing their pediatrician and go to like their first grown up doctor. So it's good that this was kind of timed in that moment where you have that resource.

Teresa:

We talked a little bit before about how she accidentally ends up with a male doctor. Her dad had made the appointment with, with a woman for her and her and Lester get their doctor swapped. And I thought it was really funny cuz the, the way that happens is Alice reads the doctor's last names, genders, the last names, more feminine sounding, last name who turns out to be a man [laugh]

Hawa:

And then Lester's upset that he ended up with the woman doctor with his Micey Mouse shorts.

Teresa:

Noooooo [laugh]

Kelsey:

I think that's such a funny detail cuz I think that's another thing that's kind of dated. I don't think a guy today would be as like embarrassed about that, nor would they be wearing Mickey Mouse themed

Hawa:

I feel like they'd be out with it, but they, I guess depends on their style. I feel like they wear it, but they wouldn't be as embarrassed. They wouldn't be embarrassed about it. But also I guess is is, is it like, boxer shorts?

Kelsey:

I think it would just be a different cartoon character here

Heather:

It was boxers, because like he was also eating breakfast in those earlier yeah, I get it. Like, and especially cuz they sort of made it sound like the female doctor was young and attractive and I think it was more related to like, well crap, like my chance with girl number four.

Hawa:

And she's just like, like actually, you know what, I'm gonna leave him with the woman doctor [laugh]

Kelsey:

Alright. So let's circle back to the states thing cuz of all the things that stick out in my mind, the states or the thing.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Kelsey:

Yeah. And I, I, I do wanna say, I think I had like a, what, what is it called a man, mandala,

Hawa:

The mandala effect

Kelsey:

Mandala. Is that what it is? Mandala, mandala.

Teresa:

This is the Mandela effect In action.

Kelsey:

Yes [laugh]. Yeah. I can't even remember what it's called, But like that idea that like everyone thinks it was Berenstein bears, but it's actually Berenstain bears and we all just like collectively misremembered. I was so confident and so certain that Alice was Wyoming and I think it's because as a kid, I didn't think Wyoming was a real state. Like I had no concept of it as a place. It was just like an amorphous blob on the map cuz I lived in Pennsylvania and that was very far from Wyoming. So I think I was just like, that's the weird one. That's one. I remember as being Alice [laugh] so it was like really shocking to me when that was not her assigned state in this book.

Hawa:

Yo, when they were naming all these states, I was just like, clearly I didn't pay enough attention to social studies cuz none of this has any meaning to me [laugh]

Kelsey:

You didn't recognize the states? [laugh[

Heather:

Like North Carolina. What's that?

Hawa:

I mean what you guys, obviously the names like yeah I know these names are states, but I'm just like, I didn't think of any like specific qualities, like somebody calls me Wyoming or North Carolina.

Heather:

That was a weird thing because for North Carolina was why did somebody, why was their affiliation? The swamp? That seems like very strange to me.

Kelsey:

I think it's cuz he went there. It was Patrick again. I think he went there and he saw a swamp. [laugh]

Heather:

Like she, she wasn't aware that there were mountains in North Carolina, which was also very odd to me for somebody in Maryland, because it seemed very likely that you'd be aware, at least generally that there are mountains that run through that part of the country.

Kelsey:

I don't know. It's not the first thing I think of when I think of North Carolina, I think he said Outer B`anks first, which I,

Heather:

he did, which I think is a fair association, but then he went with swamp

Kelsey:

Probably wouldn't go swamp. Or like it was like swamp or like dead something.

Heather:

I think it was called he's a dismal swamp,

Kelsey:

Swamp.

Hawa:

So they basically just don't want the boys, to say that they have flat chests?

Heather:

Right? [laugh] or I guess like wet chest.

Kelsey:

Yeah. What does that even mean? They're like sunken it in or something. [laugh] I, yeah. My favorite thing about that was when she finally looks it up and she finds the mountains. I, I had it written down cause it made me laugh out loud that she was upset that they were the Bald, Stone, and Smokey Mountains. And she was like, what does that mean? Like she was going to that level of detail about

Heather:

But that being said you would rather have bald than like furry mountains . [laugh] .

Hawa:

Right! [laugh]

Heather:

That was odd. I did think it was super funny. Whichever one of 'em, I think it was Pamela? It was like, if you got Louisiana, you just die

Kelsey:

Just well, Rhode Island was the worst one to her

Heather:

Like Louisiana was below sea level. So,

Hawa:

And then Delaware was another one they didn't wanna get, which I thought was so funny because I have cousins from Delaware, my boyfriend's from Delaware and I was just - Delaware jokes. Like what, what is there going on in Delaware? So that's what I thought about when they were like, yeah, I don't wanna be Delaware either.

Kelsey:

That felt very authentic Maryland to me.

Heather:

It did

Kelsey:

That like not, not Delaware anywhere, but Delaware [laugh] yeah, I did. I did think it was really funny. I, I know that it's terrible, but I like laughed out loud when Pam's mom, mom went out and bought her a visit Wyoming t-shirt

Hawa:

[laugh] it's like, yo, you're having this conversation with your mom. Like these kids have conversation with their parents and I, we never would've had, but it's also like, seems like it's like healthy conversation, but the getting of the shirt was kind of weird.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Her mom was like, yes!

Teresa:

Like enabling harassment.

Speaker 5:

Yeah .

Speaker 4:

I don't think you should

Speaker 5:

Do that . <laugh> probably

Speaker 2:

Not . That was a preferred , weird choice .

Speaker 4:

Alice's dad's reaction when Alice is telling him that pay got named for Wyoming and he just like drops his fork and puts his head in his hands and he's like, dear God, at like

Speaker 5:

This <laugh> that's the

Speaker 4:

More appropriate parental

Speaker 5:

Reaction. <laugh> absolutely. <laugh>

Speaker 3:

Yeah. It is like, it does capture this kind of weird thing where like, they both don't want to be getting given a state because Ew . But also like if you, you don't get one, like there's only 50 states and there's more than fif . Well, although they did say, she said there's only 52 states and I was like

Speaker 2:

Out there

Speaker 5:

Apparent like what is happening ?

Speaker 3:

And I was like , that's either really smart or really dumb, But yeah. So she's like, there's only 52 states.

Speaker 5:

There's

Speaker 3:

More than 52 of us. And like, that would be the , I would die if I didn't get a state, like I'd rather be Illinois than nothing. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You'd rather be made fun of than not even noticed I guess.

Speaker 3:

And just like, and then when she does get her, you know, mounds that she's so proud of it she's like hates that. She's proud of it , but it , then she's kind of proud of it too. You know? It's like very conflicting feelings.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Reading this as a kid, I definitely feel like I got some secondhand trauma from it, but also wanted to be part of it, you know, because it's complicated. You want the attention, you want the affirmation, but also like knowing that the boys in your life, who are your peers feel that entitled to think that way about your body? I mean, yeah. We're all going through puberty. We're all thinking about this stuff, but it's a different level of entitlement to another person's physical existence. Mm-hmm <affirmative>

Speaker 2:

And

Speaker 4:

I definitely was like terrified of boys for , for a long time. And I think this is a part of it <laugh>

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I absolutely feel that because like, I would even hate like going out in public or feeling like I was being stared at or like, you know, having to get up in the middle of the class and like to go like sharpen my pencil. I didn't wanna do things that I felt like would bring attention to me. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so I actually really feel that

Speaker 4:

<laugh>

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think for me it was just like my, my anxious little twin brain was exactly like Alice's where I would read like six layers deep into every state assignment to the point that like, I wouldn't even like the , the good ones I'd be like, but it's not all mounds. And like, what if they're thinking about the planes in Wyoming or whatever, like, you know, like I think I stressed about that more than like the , the fact that it's assigned to people. Like my brain is like, it went too many levels. <laugh>

Speaker 1:

You gotta find everything you can possibly can about the states to , to do the pros and the cons to

Speaker 4:

Figure out

Speaker 1:

Business a list or

Speaker 3:

Not. <laugh> the last thing that we wanted to touch on and kind of the big day Newman , I guess, of the book is this whole Denise Whitlock plot line <affirmative> which,

Speaker 2:

What a downer it's, it's heavy, unexpected too. The context for Denise is that their backstory is that she used to bully Alice, but they've sort of MedEd the fence and they've reached, I don't know, I guess a , a relationship where there are more or less comfortable with each other. So they interact, but they're not really friends, friends, like she's friends with like Pamela , for example. But Denise seems to be glamming onto her a little bit more over the course of the book. So like at school she's talking to her like she's finding or when they're walking after school and finding opportunities just to her and Alice is realizing like Denise is a pretty sad person. Like she's carrying a lot of trauma. She's dealing with a lot in her home life. And that comes out in the book. I think Alice describes her family. And Denise says that she's the last one of six, I think. And her parents have told her, they, they would've stopped at five, which is like shattering. So that's sort of the context we have for this family. Denise shows up at school with a Shiner and Alice is like, Denise, what happened to your eye? Who hit you? And she said , give my mom. And she said, I kind of deserved it cuz I got mouthy with her. So, you know, she belted me in , in faith . I think Alice realizes how commonplace that is to Denise. Like Denise doesn't even act like it's a thing. Really. She just is kind of like, yeah, that's what happens at my house. So Alice realizes this is just Denise's life like it's so extraordinarily different from her home life. Denise also realizes that Alice's life is so extraordinarily different from her home life. And you see her trying to grab moments of that. You know, she's asking about Alice's family. She ends up coming over and staying for dinner. At point, she's looking for reasons to sort of escape there to this softer family that is more what she would want and a family without a mom I think is really important here because her mom is the abuser in her home. So she comes for dinner, Lester and her dad handled that really well. Like they just did not make it a and they were just kinda like , oh , Denise is here eating your gross food out .

Speaker 5:

<laugh> poor Denise .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And he makes her something else and they're just incorporating her into the , you know, this very day to day life with them. She gets to stay overnight. Alice hears her sobbing in the middle of the night. And , and doesn't say anything because she's sort of acknowledging like Denise is doing this at a time that she feels she has privacy. And like, I shouldn't intrude on that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> not very long later in the story. An assembly is called at school and principal did this in a really bad way. Yeah . Like I don't think that that's the way that you would inform people of this, but informs every, anyone in the school that Denise killed herself by jumping in front of a train. Yeah . Which, and when it hits that point in the book, like it just comes out of nowhere. It packs a , a wall up and then you see Alice break down and she's wondering if she should have done something differently. Should she have told somebody about what she knew about Denise's family? What if she had asked more questions? What if they had tried to get her to stay longer? Like all of these things, Ms. Summers tries to console her and then she kind of just has to move on from it. Like there's not a whole lot of space given to that in the book. Like the buildup is much more than you actually get this resolution of it and it doesn't tie it up in an need . Both. It's an interesting choice for the book because it really is the only particularly significant thing that happens in the book. Other than like, I guess the party.

Speaker 3:

I mean, hearing you describe that now it makes me think about like this kind of running theme is like how we relate to the main woman figure in our lives. So you have like Liz of it than her mom dynamic. You have Alice and the way that she is with like having no mom and then Ms. Summers , and then you have Denise's mom. And I think it was really driven home when Denise was describing that her , when her mom punched her and she and Alice thinks to herself like, oh, at the Whitlock house, the woman of the house uses her fist. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I really like came home with me. The whole spotlight line is written very like J chapter book in a way where it's like very quick and then's kind of over, but it's not, like you said, it's not over. It's not like, she's like, oh, this happened now moved on. She does sit with it and mourn it and have like kind of unresolved feelings, which I think is much different than most other books where it'd just be like, oh, that was sad. Okay. Well now I'm doing this other thing. And I really respect that her feelings about Denise are so messy that she doesn't same thing as with her mom. She doesn't say like, oh, my mom was the greatest. And I have so many warm memories of hers. Like Denise was a person she used to bully me. She had a terrible life. She was kind, we were kind of coming around, but I still don't know that I was her friend, but this is really devastating that this happened and shouldn't have

Speaker 2:

Happened. Yeah. She kind of comes to the conclusion. Like I was the only person that was kind to her. Yeah. And oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

And I actually, I , I , I like that. Alice was like, she never felt like it could possibly have been her fault in terms of, I didn't, I didn't, I did something wrong. She just felt like there was more, she could have done mm-hmm <affirmative> so I knew it was coming because of the conversation we had when we scripted. Sorry. So there was this scene in the book where she's having the party for her dad and comes with a gift and Alice is like, oh, you didn't have to bring my dad anything. And she's like, no, this is for you. And inside the , the gift is like a bracelet, a picture of her and Alice doesn't think anything of she just takes she's like, yeah, sure. Thanks . She ends up putting the picture up. Even before her passing. I thought that looking back, knowing that it was coming, it was kind of a giveaway, but if not, I just would've have been like, oh , okay. Like she really is kind of like growing to her. And that likes that she has somebody in her life that is not treating her badly or she can come to. And you know, when she's not feeling okay. And towards the end of the book, like when they're putting together the time capsule, like I think the teacher makes a comment about somebody wanted to put like the newspaper for death and the time capsule and the teacher, like , no, because what kind of message is that sending to her? If you're treating her better in death than in life. That was something that I thought was really profound to be in a children's book, but it absolutely makes sense. And I think it's a sentiment that a lot of people need to hear. Not just children. And I like that he let her put the bracelet in the box though. Yeah. As a little bonus.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Cuz the, that represented who Denise was in life rather than how Denise died, which was what the article, I guess would've done. And he was trying to keep them from giving fame or notoriety or not promoting it, but right . Oh, this is why she was important. Mm-hmm <affirmative> <affirmative> yeah. I also thought that was a really interesting take on it for a children's book. Along with it . They didn't build her into it . Like she was the sweetest person and this is so tragic. It was like, she wasn't the sweetest person and it is still tragic. Yeah . Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I think with Alice, having that sort of constant undercurrent of grief about her mom, it doesn't just end it for her. Like you assume that she is gonna keep thinking about Denise down the road and that it'll be this different experience of grief. She is gonna have those intrusive thought, just like she does does with her mom. Mm-hmm <affirmative> where sometimes you're just going about your day and now you remember this person is gone. So again, I think she does a really nice job of showing what grief really looks like rather than showing this very romanticized version of grief that we often get in children's literature.

Speaker 3:

You know how well you mentioned that Alice has this conflict where she's like, oh , I could have done more. Like, why didn't I do anything? And obviously like she's 12. She doesn't really, she can't be expected to have done anything about it, but I think it subtly does the thing of, of teaching kids. Like here are some warning signs. If you see your friend dealing with this kind of stuff, if you see someone is struggling, if you see that they're giving away all their stuff, tell an adult about it.

Speaker 1:

And I like that their friends had that conversation with each other. Cause I don't know if that's a conversation that I would've had with my friends at that age, but I guess also because they actually experienced something like that, it was hard for them to not, not talk about it. Especially being that they're so close. Right .

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm

Speaker 1:

<affirmative> I don't know if this is just me overthinking it, but you noticed, I don't know if y'all noticed how they were talking through some of the things like, okay, well look out for this, look out for this. Some of the stuff was just stuff that like, Alice was just kind of just doing like there was that one time where she just like randomly bursted out crying because she was thinking about her brother. And if something tragic happened to him and I'm of just like,

Speaker 2:

But they said, but we all cry all the time.

Speaker 1:

Don't

Speaker 2:

Use that as a warning sign .

Speaker 1:

Yeah . So they were like, it's not a warning sign, but I was just like, okay. <laugh>

Speaker 3:

I be scene was really funny where she is like talks herself into thinking that her brother died in like a

Speaker 2:

Car accident to think about him dying, to be able to tolerate him. But she , it makes herself fat . Yeah. I thought that was a great

Speaker 1:

She's like, yeah , this is how we could she world peace . And everybody just acted like everybody was gonna die soon. <laugh>

Speaker 3:

They have to like escort her out of the cafeteria <laugh>

Speaker 2:

She's and then the nurse handled it, like in a really funny way too. She's like, oh no, are you okay? Like , like really trying to take care of her. And she's like, well he's not actually done . I was just like, oh boy, <laugh>

Speaker 1:

In the span of like five minutes . The whole school had heard like,

Speaker 3:

Oh my gosh.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That was where I read it. It was like, how do you come back from that? Cause that's embarrassing. Embarrassing . Yeah . That's a real weird thing to do

Speaker 3:

Patrick. Cuz like I heard you had a out in a cafeteria.

Speaker 1:

That's a true friend. Cause everybody else just talked around her. He's just like, well I heard you was out here tripping <laugh>

Speaker 3:

Oh my gosh.

Speaker 4:

Each episode, our luminous literary and frequent co-host Haua will provide miscellaneous and insights from our book. It's time for ha's Headspace.

Speaker 7:

Hi everyone. Welcome to Haahs Headspace. The part of the podcast where I literally say whatever comes to mind for today's segment. I was thinking a lot about how in Allison , April the boys assign states as nicknames to each girl, depending on how developed they are, depending on which state they were assigned, the girls were either excited or disappointed. I took to the street to ask a few people what comes to mind when they think of the good old state of Maryland. What are three things that come to mind when you think of the state of Maryland,

Speaker 8:

The Ravens crabs and U MD ,

Speaker 9:

Uh, old bay, blue crabs and the obsession with the state flag. <laugh>

Speaker 7:

What are three things that come to mind when you think of the state of Maryland,

Speaker 10:

The flag crabs Chesapeake, but

Speaker 11:

Three things that come to mind. When I think of the state of Maryland are crabs, Maryland crabs, university of Maryland TURPs and the bay bridge .

Speaker 7:

Well folks there, you have it. That's what people think about when they think of Maryland, based on those responses, what would your reaction be to getting Maryland as your assigned nickname tune in next time to see what else is going on in this head of mind ?

Speaker 12:

Now let's talk to someone who actually knows something about Wyoming, former Wyoming, state legislator, Charles PEY . Why do you think it is that that Wyoming is a forgotten state for a lot of people?

Speaker 13:

Well, I mean, there are a lot of reasons , uh , to start where about the same size as Colorado and we have , uh , 10th of the population . So we are wide open spaces and in Wyoming, I mean our , I think our biggest city is only 60 . I mean, it's a beautiful state. I mean we have , we have Yellowstone, we have doubles tower, but it's, it's a very difficult place to live. If you're, if you're not comfortable in cold weather , I'll tell you a quick story . I , I took my in the middle of winter five years ago, we were 20 kilometers from the , uh , Arctic circle . And I went to have a , before I talking to this guy and he goes , well , you and I said , well , I'm from , but I in now . And he goes , where he , well , what's that like? And I said, well , you know , we're at seven , you know , 2300 meters in height. Um , we're uh , between two mountain ranges in a big valley, he said, well, that sounds nice. What's weather. Like, and I said, the summer's here are spectacular. He goes, yeah, but what's weather like right now. And it was December or something like that, one co up and sure enough , we had 18 inches of snow . The wind was blowing at 35 miles an hour. The temperature was 18 below zero Fahrenheit . And he looks at me and goes, holy, how do you people live like that? Keep in mind, I'm 20 kilometers from thetic circles . And uh , you know , I mean , it's , it's really rough here in the winter.

Speaker 12:

Yeah, that sounds brutal .

Speaker 13:

Yeah . I mean UHIC the , of has never had a lower than , uh , below and cold is 50 below.

Speaker 12:

So I also wanted to ask you about the people in Wyoming. You represented people in Wyoming as a politician. How would you characterize people in Wyoming?

Speaker 13:

Well , it's we south , but we, you know, and , and the Republicans here where the sort of leading the hell alone , uh , Republicans, you know, not really trying to do a lot of social stuff, just sort of being left alone. Um , we've had an infusion of really far. Right. You know, kinda like I we've had infusion of really far right politicians. So one of my friends in legislature, a Democrat by the name of Stan Blake was replaced by a guy with he lost to a guy with Nazi tattoos on his .

Speaker 12:

Oh

Speaker 13:

Yeah . So I dunno , you know , we've got Wyoming politics is an interesting mix. Not sure how to characterize the state , but it is growing increasingly , um , not just conservative, but quite <inaudible>

Speaker 12:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> do you think there are any like misconceptions or stereotypes that people have about Wyoming or the people who live there that, that you would like to dispel? Well,

Speaker 13:

I mean, it's a fundamentally decent state . There are really a lot of good people here. You know, we're not all Cowboys we're , uh , you know , it's an state , you know , stereotypical, they think of us as , as Cowboys and backward , you know , decent , hard working state thing about Wyoming, you ought to keep in mind also is , uh , we're like the fourth, most successful K12 school system in the country. It's and we're number one less Mississippi . I mean, it's , it's like , uh , I mean , we , we got a ton of money from coal industry , you know, cause they , they produce a ton of coal and I , I did talk about the carbon problem, but you know, I mean , in terms of education, we have a spectacular K12 system and a very well funded university as well . So , um , those things , you know, we , we're not up union to what New Mexico just did, but we do have a thing called the halfway scholarship, which makes undergraduate and community college almost free. It's it's really good. Take Colorado in compare to Wyoming on K12 education. Our teachers are paid better . Our schools are , are newer and, and better . It's absolutely wonderful here for , so , you know , we a ton money and very people .

Speaker 12:

Okay . And then my last question would be if someone was to visit Wyoming , what would the top of their list need to be for things to do in Wyoming?

Speaker 13:

Well, I mean, everybody wants to get a Yellowstone. Everybody wants to go out pet a Buffalo, 10 or 15 of them a year, get, go , you know, the wind river range , Lander Wyoming is a really nice place. They , uh , first national monument us , you know , we have a first national park , uh , in Yellowstone. It's, it's a gorgeous state. I mean, it's, we have the largest migrant migratory , uh , uh , paths for , uh , wildlife country . We have the most isolated spots , the lower 48 . It's just, it's quiet . And , uh , you know , ATY way in a way that no one in New York city has ever seen . You know , I used to refer to my house district as a island blue and a sea of red mm-hmm <affirmative> uh , Laramie's really cool. I mean , <laugh> people in Laramie refer to each other ASCOs we have terrific restaurants, great coffee shops. Uh , I actually , uh , feel good for the young woman who is named Wyoming. <laugh>

Speaker 12:

All right . Thanks so much for your time, Charles.

Speaker 13:

Sure. No worries.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So each week we play a game this week, we are going to bite off a game, provided to us by the lovely people of that really old , old Bantom edition that Kelsey and I read from about Alice. So at the end of all, the Alice books published by Bantom double day , there is a short checkbox quiz. That's sort of the teaser for the next Alice book, but we realize they're all the same questions. So we're going to play the quiz that we would've played when we were girls. If we had these editions of the, You know, how it feels these days, that's all Alice is suffering. Instead of growing up, she seems to be growing backward. And this is titled embarrassment. It says, have you ever, and then we have yes or no, check boxes opened a dressing room door on a boy or done something equally embarrassing. So

Speaker 5:

Too vague. <laugh> I agree. But yes, the answer is yes. Yeah , yes, yes . Are we answering as tell us , or

Speaker 2:

As , as you

Speaker 5:

Everyone tell their story, I'm just kidding.

Speaker 2:

Has anyone actually opened a dressing room door on a boy?

Speaker 1:

Not enough dressing room, but

Speaker 5:

Like

Speaker 2:

I have bathrooms for sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Like I have brothers, like

Speaker 5:

<laugh>

Speaker 2:

Have you ever been the one who gets the totally uncool teacher? Yes.

Speaker 5:

Heck

Speaker 4:

Yeah . I was homeschooled. So yes.

Speaker 5:

Wow . Love you mom . Sorry . Teresa's mom .

Speaker 1:

I had a fifth grade teacher and I something happened and I was crying one day or something and like the next day something happened and I was got upset, but I wasn't on the verge of crying. She was like, Ugh , not she again with the crocodile tears. So

Speaker 5:

Miss

Speaker 1:

From spring court , like elementary, I didn't forget about you. She don't work there no more. It's fine.

Speaker 5:

<laugh> BLE that BLE that

Speaker 2:

Have you ever had a disastrous Valentine's day ?

Speaker 4:

No, I don't think like horribly disastrous,

Speaker 1:

I would say not disastrous, but like there was like, so my first ever Valentine's day that I like spent with someone, I was like 18 years old and I told my mom I was going to work and she dropped me off at the mall and I was in my uniform and everything and I changed to whatever I was gonna wear. The guy I was dating was friends with like my twin sister's boyfriend. So when she was away at college at the time, so he was there and like , he gave her a ride to go see, he gave the dude a ride to go see my sister. So we kind of had to make our plans to be around there, which was like 30 minutes out. Yeah. I think we ended up going to like an IHOP or dens or something on like Valentine's day . Cause everywhere else we wanted to go was like super crowded . And of course we didn't think to plan it head. And then of course my mom thought I was at work. So my flowers that I had in my face had water in them. And I had to put, I put them in my tote bag and silly me forgetting that there's water in this bag and it spills all over my stuff in the bag. So that was kind of disastrous mom, if you hear this, which I hope you don't, I don't be lying like that anymore. Okay .

Speaker 5:

<laugh>

Speaker 2:

Okay. Question . Have you ever not known you have a terrible stain on your shirt?

Speaker 4:

Yeah .

Speaker 2:

<laugh> yeah . I mean, honestly, on any given day that's me <laugh>

Speaker 5:

Right .

Speaker 4:

Literally all the time

Speaker 2:

The N says all of these embarrassing events have happened to Alice.

Speaker 5:

What ? Shocker?

Speaker 2:

No, if you've met any of them , now's the time to catch up. And then it says read, and then it has all of the like Alice books that you can read what a cop out really was. Yeah . No stains are not even embarrassing.

Speaker 1:

I was about to say, I remember she was embarrassed about the hole in her pants, but that's not a stain,

Speaker 2:

Not the same level . I feel like a whole

Speaker 1:

Pants is more

Speaker 2:

Actually embarrassing . Not at all. Yeah . Stains, nothing. I went to church with a thong stuck to me <laugh> so that was the worst <laugh> . But I was When one of my kids was like an infant, like I was so tired and sleep the deprived Y so I had like literally done the laundry and stuff. I was like, I'm give myself to church. I'm gonna go to mass . So I go to mass and it was winter, right? So I'm wearing my north face, my Denali jacket, which is fleece. So of course static, I get all the way through mass. There are people sitting behind me. And then I is that all through mass . One of my lace thongs has been stuck to the back of my north face jacket <laugh> and nobody has told me, so I sat there, all masks like that. And then those women are not my friends anymore because you need to tell somebody that

Speaker 1:

Like, why would you not? Right ? But like , that's not something that you see someone would do and think, oh, I did this intentionally. That's

Speaker 3:

Not like, oh, you have a little food stuck in your teeth . Right . It's a , you tell <laugh>

Speaker 4:

Each episode we ask whether our book passes, the Beal test, the Beal test asks whether a work features two female characters who talk to each other and they have to talk about something that doesn't involve men or boys. So how did we do with Atlas? Yes . Yes . For sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That was easy.

Speaker 3:

That is surprising given that literally

Speaker 2:

There's a lot of focus on boys.

Speaker 3:

There's a lot of men in her life and in the plot. Yes. So that's pretty cool,

Speaker 2:

But they talk about a lot of things. Yeah . Talk about duct cleaning. <laugh>

Speaker 4:

I have a great little anecdote from the, the blog that Phyllis Reynolds nailer keeps. She tells a story about a book signing where three boys around 11 or 12 came in , in line to have their Alice book signs. And they told her, we learn about girls this way. <laugh>

Speaker 2:

That's awesome .

Speaker 4:

So I appreciate that. We book that passes the Beck , they test for those boys to learn about girl .

Speaker 1:

That was cute. Well, that's it for this episode of these books made me join us next time. When we'll discuss a book where children Rob , the met museum of all its pennies. If you think you know which book we're tackling next, drop us a tweet or at PGC MLS on Twitter, hashtag these books made me.

Intro
Guest introduction
What did this book mean to us
Plot summary
Author bio
Discussion
Dated references & being the Woman of the House
A confusingly terrible party
Alice and her teacher
Alice and her dad
Aunt Sally
Lester
The absence of Alice's mom
Why is Alice not calling Carol?
Alice/Patrick dynamic
The portrayal of puberty & body image stuff
Sick burns & clever comebacks