Publisher: Athenum Books for Young Readers
Release: October 16, 2013
Others in the Series: A lot. Click here to view them all
Alice McKinley is going to college! And everything, from her room to her classes to her friends, is about to change. Stoically, nervously, Alice puts her best foot forward…and steps into the rest of her life.
Just how crazy will her college life get? Will Alice’s dream of becoming a psychologist come true? Are she and her BFFs destined to remain BFFs? And with so many miles between them, will Alice and Patrick stay together…or is there a hot, mysterious stranger in her future? As Alice well knows, life isn’t always so predictable, and there are more than a few curveballs waiting to be thrown her way.
This is it. The grand finale. You’ve loved her, you’ve learned with her, you’ve watched her grow up through twenty-eight books. And now everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Alice McKinley will be revealed!
Just by looking at its cover, anyone can tell Now I'll Tell You Everything is different, a shift from the rest of the series. Before, each book incorporated the main character's name into the title and, in the newer editions, the cover designer chose to only capture the back of her head. But now, with a final turn to face the photographer, the no-longer-eponymous Alice greets readers, ensuring them that the title states the truth; she will let them in on everything they ever wanted to know about her life.
And Alice does tell all-at least, all that happens until age sixty. Her last hurrah essentially chronicles her entire adult life and all the ups and downs that come with it, which can seem a bit awkward as her tale switches through multiple age categories. Now I'll Tell You Everything deals with adult problems-marriage issues, raising children, watching yourself and everyone around you age-most of which are unexplored or dealt with differently in the majority of YA. For this reason, in addition to the fact that reading a series in order is common sense, I highly recommend starting with earlier novels about Alice before jumping into this one. Teenage readers used to YA are sure to appreciate this book more if they go into it already attached to the main character so they can avoid feeling disconnected as she sifts through strands of graying hair.
Even if this is someone's first encounter with Alice, though, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor will make him or her feel at home, building such a spectrum of bursting emotions that those who have never encountered them will still experience them through the characters. I laughed and loved, swooned and stressed, and mourned and memorialized along with Alice, even though, at age fifteen, I have never been to college or given birth. The author does such a thorough job describing the everyday life of a woman from eighteen to sixty that more inexperienced readers will develop a deeper understanding of the emotional aging process and learn what it is like to enter a new realm of a world they already knew, slowly, step-by-step, but surprisingly quickly in retrospect.
However, my favorite aspect of this novel is reminiscent of the ones before it: the way the storyline flows so naturally and realistically. None of these books adheres to the standard plot mountain taught in elementary school English lessons, instead stringing along a series of everyday events that make up a period in the true-to life world of one girl-turned-woman. This series covers almost fifty years full of countless events, so instead of overloading the reader, Naylor's style can cover one week in depth while passing over the next few years in a paragraph, resulting an a light, fluttery mood that allows readers to sit back and let the plot points wash over them. Because Alice's stories never lead up to one climax and feature a selection of conflicts rather than one big moment, readers can easily become engaged as the tale bobs along, reminding them of their own lives and somehow never becoming boring.