“So the Summer of the First Boyfriend–the first real boyfriend–stretched out before me like a roller coaster. I didn’t want to get off, but I was terrified of what was over the next hill” (Naylor, 1989, p.2).
Alice’s father calls the summer before Alice starts junior high the Summer of the First Boyfriend. It’s not only the Summer of the First Boyfriend for Alice, but for her best friends Elizabeth and Pamela, too. Together they navigate the ups and downs of the dating world which, they come to find, is not so simple. In fact, Alice finds that being Patrick’s girlfriend is a lot more stressful than just being his friend, and begins to experience relief in the moments he’s not around. “And by the end of August,” she says, “I’d begun to wonder if this was the way I was supposed to feel when Patrick wasn’t there: relieved” (Naylor, 1989, p.91). In the end, Alice and Patrick decide to go back to being just friends (well, special friends) as they are able to enjoy each other more that way.
Genre: contemporary realistic
Naylor, I believe, handles Alice’s first relationship wonderfully. Though Alice’s heart “bounces” whenever Patrick calls, she finds having a boyfriend more complicated than expected. She over-analyzes her every move, whether it be the number of rings she should wait before answering his phone calls or what to buy him for his birthday. And though Alice finds his kisses romantic, she begins to long for the time when they were just friends. Eventually, she does decide that for now, she and Patrick are better as friends. I think this made Naylor’s portrayal of a first relationship (especially one occurring a such a young age) very accurate. As Alice is only twelve, and thus a tween girl, it’s natural that she’d be curious about boys, yet not quite ready to deal with a boyfriend.
Reading/interest level: ages 9 to 12
Similar titles: Reluctantly Alice