I hope this doesn't make me a bad librarian, but I've never read any other "Alice" Books. As a result, the first half of this novel was pretty rough on me. Naylor doesn't provide much, if any, description of her character other than "African American" and "braces". Alice has friends, and then she has frenemies, her family, the cancer kid, the mentally impaired kid, and then there are the boys Alice knows and has or has not dated. I feel like a need a crib sheet with all the past happenings that fills these characters in for me. Alice, like all awkward teens in novels dealing with school social scenes, dwells on her frenemies, who refer to her as DD and MGT. I don't think teens today would ever actually use the phrase, "Dry as Dust".
That said, I found the second half of the book very interesting, especially the frank explorations of sexuality. The boring, mundane little world Alice inhabits finally became a little more real at these moments of excitement, awakening, and embarrassment. Its a bit like Judy Blume, updated for the smart girls. If I was making a best of list for the Alice Books, I am sure this one would be on there, but this one gets a