Book Review:Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

What is Alice Bliss About ?

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Harrington’s coming-of-age work follows the life of the eponymous Alice Bliss as she embarks on a journey of personal growth.  Set against the backdrop of the Iraqi war, Harrington takes a microscopic look at the Bliss family and how they cope as the dad goes to war for his country. In a huge way the departure of Matt Bliss affects every member of the family, but in different ways.

Story outline

Alice Bliss is the 15 year old daughter of Angie and Matt Bliss. She is the protagonist of the novel and has a close relationship with her dad. As an adolescent she finds it difficult to deal with the sudden change of her father going to war and the responsibility that is piled on her shoulders. She must grow up, look after her little sister Ellie and take care of the house as Angie struggles to live life without her husband.

Harrington uses an omniscient narrator to give a peek into the lives of pivotal characters. For Instance, Angie wants Matt to come back and doesn’t fully understand why her teenage daughter has changed so much.Harry, Alice’s best friend, is on a journey as well as he tries to understand his growing feelings towards her. Nonetheless, Alice is the main focual point of the novel; it is her coming-of-age story. She goes on an adventure of self-discovery and acceptance. She tries to make sense of her feelings towards boys, Harry in particular,bickers with Angie and finds ways to comfort herself.

My Opinion

This is the first novel I’ve read by Laura Harrington and I’m taking a liking to her. The novel has some beautifully written passages which  ignore conventional grammar. I don’t have a huge problem with this because it makes the novel feel poetic. Alice is very life-like. Like, I can actually imagine her as a feel person. I like that she is determined, kind and strong. I’ll admit at times she is too stubborn for my liking. In spite of this, she progresses as a character. Henry is super likable, sometimes more than Alice. He’s so sweet and understanding to Alice and you can see that he really cares for her. Ellie made me laugh…a lot!

In some places the novel is slow paced, so it does take a lot of patience to read it. It is easy to read and even made me laugh. The novel is poignant; I didn’t cry buckets of tears. However, I did have tiny tears in my eyes during some scenes (the ending… that darn ending… let’s just say it involves boats and stars).

As a coming -of -age novel I’m struggling to give it a suitable age range. I don’t  think it fits neatly into the teen fiction category. Maybe it’s a hybrid of young/adult fiction. I’m in my early 20s and it was fine for me!

All in all, I had to force myself to carry on with this novel some days. In spite of that, I’m glad I did because Harrington is a good character builder and great at creating emotional scenes.  I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for lifelike characters, a bit of laughter and tears, and a story about family.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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