2001 Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist: Fifteen years old and nursing a "serious case of outcastitis," Alice MacLeod is having a hard time finding anything much to like in small town Smithers, British Columbia. Her mom's a folk-festival hippie chick with a hair-trigger temper, her dad's a mild and reasonable sort of loser who hides out in the basement trying to write soft-core romance novels, and her last school counselor threw a teary fit in the middle of a session and left the profession entirely. She'd love to "get past what my father calls my 'knee-jerk dislike of just about anything,'" but she's not sure that there's anything out there that's worth it.
Alice, I Think, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award, collects a summer's worth of Alice's journals. The journals are filled with eye-rolling protests at the embarrassments and stupidities she finds herself surrounded with: her mother's drumming-circle friends, the therapeutic jargon her counselors use, the "total rip-off" that the Sea Monkeys offers in the back of comic books turn out to be. But Alice's sharp bark doesn't do much to conceal her lack of a bite. It's her mom, after all, not Alice, who gets into a fistfight with Linda, the town's feathered-hair teen thug, while Alice sits cringing in the family car. In fact, Alice has a sweet side, which she makes all the more endearing by getting all squirmy and ashamed whenever she reveals it. As a novel, her story meanders, in the way that journals will, and the jokes are often aimed at easy marks, but Alice's fierce ungainliness, and her unwillingness to surrender it to make her life any easier, make her struggles appealing. --Tom Nissley [via]