Elizabeth Scott has been very prolific in the field of young adult literature over the last few years. Many of her books fall into the “chick lit” category because they focus on things like girls, love, and friendship. But when she wants to get serious, she can get REALLY serious. Books like Living Dead Girl and Love You Hate You Miss You feature female protagonists who are both strong and flawed at the same time, and readers will ache inside as they read these books and feel how much these girls are suffering.
Note: although the language in this book is very simple, I’m recommending it for high school students rather than middle school students because of the intensity and maturity of the subject matter. And yet, it’s not gratuitous or explicit in its exploration of Alice’s life. So while I might not recommend it to middle school kids across the board, I would put it in the hands of the ones I thought were mature enough to handle it.
Also Note: You’ll probably notice that there’s a lot of dramatic pausing in my presentation of this booktalk (or, perhaps, that my pauses are a little longer than usual). Remember that writing is only half the task of a booktalk, and the teens in your audience didn’t watch you write. They’re watching and listening to you as you speak, and it’s up to you to decide how to present your words most effectively. This booktalk is my way of presenting an amazing book about a profound, tragic, and frightening subject. With every pause, I’m maintaining eye contact with my audience and letting my words sink in.
Alice has been living with Ray for the last five years. When she was in the fifth grade, Ray kidnapped her while she was on a field trip to the aquarium. Now Alice is fifteen, and she’s getting too old for him. Ray is doing everything he can to keep her like the little girl she used to be. He dresses her like a child. He starves her to keep her weight under a hundred pounds. He makes her take pills every day — one so that she won’t get acne, and one so that she won’t get her period again … like she did last year. But there are some things that neither of them can control, like how much Alice has grown. She’s almost as tall as Ray now, and that displeases him. Alice is tired of fighting, and she’s also tired of living. Alice has vivid daydreams about what it would be like to die, but for reasons that she can’t explain, her heart still wants to beat, and her lungs still want to breathe. Alice knows that Ray wants to find a younger girl, but she doesn’t know what her own future holds. Maybe Ray will let her go, so she can start her life over again and even return to her family. Or maybe Ray will do the same thing to her that he did to the last girl he called Alice.