Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Alice navigates the challenges of growing up and facing new experiences.


"Achingly Alice" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a heartwarming and relatable novel that delves into the life of Alice McKinley, a young girl navigating the challenges and triumphs of adolescence. As the sixth installment in the Alice series, this book continues to captivate readers with its authentic portrayal of the rollercoaster of emotions that come with growing up. Through Alice's experiences and encounters, Naylor explores themes of friendship, family dynamics, self-discovery, and the complexities of young love.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story is set in Takoma Park, Maryland, where Alice McKinley resides with her father, older brother Lester, and her father's fiancée, Sarah. Alice is a typical teenager dealing with the ups and downs of middle school, friendships, and budding romance. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Alice's everyday life, where she grapples with the complexities of her evolving relationships and the challenges of finding her place in the world.

Main Characters

The story features a cast of vibrant characters, each contributing to Alice's journey of self-discovery and growth.

Alice McKinleyThe protagonist, a thoughtful and introspective young girl navigating the challenges of adolescence.
Lester McKinleyAlice's older brother, who plays a supportive role in her life and offers guidance as she faces various dilemmas.
SarahAlice's father's fiancée, who tries to establish a connection with Alice while adjusting to her new role in the family.
PamelaAlice's best friend, who provides unwavering support and companionship throughout the ups and downs of teenage life.
PatrickA classmate and love interest, who introduces Alice to the complexities of young romance.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5:

Alice juggles the challenges of starting middle school, dealing with a new teacher, and navigating the intricacies of friendship. She also grapples with her feelings towards her father's fiancée, Sarah, as she tries to adjust to the changes in her family dynamic.

Chapter 6-10:

As Alice becomes more accustomed to her new school environment, she encounters various social dilemmas and experiences the excitement and confusion of young love. She also faces the complexities of family relationships and the adjustments that come with her father's impending marriage.

Chapter 11-15:

The narrative delves deeper into Alice's emotional journey as she learns valuable lessons about trust, honesty, and the importance of staying true to herself. She also navigates the challenges of peer pressure and the complexities of teenage friendships.

Chapter 16-20:

Alice experiences significant personal growth as she confronts her fears and insecurities, ultimately emerging as a more resilient and self-assured individual. The story also delves into the dynamics of blended families and the complexities of young romance.

Main Events

The book is filled with pivotal events that shape Alice's emotional and psychological landscape, including her experiences in middle school, her evolving relationships with her family and friends, her journey into the complexities of young love, and her emotional growth as she navigates the challenges of adolescence.

Themes and Insights


  1. Friendship: The novel explores the significance of steadfast friendships and the support they provide during the tumultuous years of adolescence.
  2. Family Dynamics: It delves into the complexities of family relationships, especially in the context of blended families and the adjustments that come with new additions.
  3. Self-Discovery: Alice's journey of self-discovery and personal growth forms a central theme, illustrating the challenges and triumphs of finding one's identity during the formative years of adolescence.
  4. Young Love: The complexities of young romance and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with navigating feelings for a classmate are intricately woven into the narrative.


The novel offers valuable insights into the emotional landscape of adolescence, highlighting the challenges, insecurities, and triumphs that come with growing up. It also underscores the significance of authenticity, resilience, and the importance of staying true to oneself amidst the complexities of teenage life.

Reader's Takeaway

"Achingly Alice" resonates with readers of all ages, offering a poignant and relatable portrayal of the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Through Alice's experiences, readers gain insights into the complexities of friendship, family dynamics, and the emotional rollercoaster of young love. The novel serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength that can emerge from navigating the challenges of growing up, making it a compelling and enriching read for audiences seeking genuine and heartfelt storytelling.


In "Achingly Alice," Phyllis Reynolds Naylor expertly captures the emotional landscape of adolescence, portraying a relatable and authentic narrative that resonates with readers of all ages. Through Alice's journey of self-discovery, the novel navigates the complexities of friendship, family dynamics, and the emotional rollercoaster of young love, offering valuable insights and a compelling narrative that lingers in the hearts of its audience.

Achingly Alice FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Achingly Alice'?

    Achingly Alice is a young adult fiction novel, belonging to the coming-of-age genre.

  2. Who is the author of 'Achingly Alice'?

    The author of 'Achingly Alice' is Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

  3. What is the main theme of 'Achingly Alice'?

    The main theme of 'Achingly Alice' revolves around the challenges and experiences of adolescence, including friendship, self-discovery, and family dynamics.

  4. Is 'Achingly Alice' part of a series?

    Yes, 'Achingly Alice' is part of the Alice series, which follows the life and adventures of the protagonist, Alice McKinley.

  5. What age group is 'Achingly Alice' suitable for?

    The book is suitable for young adult readers, typically aged 12 and above, who can relate to the experiences and emotions of the protagonist.