"Rebecca Behrens hooks most young readers on the first page of When Audrey Met Alice. Few would turn away from the opportunity to get a glimpse of life inside the White House. Using the fictional character, Audrey Rose, readers see the pluses and minuses of being the President’s child in the twenty-first century.
Being the First Daughter may appear glamorous. However, life in the White House is far from normal. Complex procedures sabotage the ease of having friends visit after school. The restrictions are compounded when the fictionalized First Daughter, Audrey, misbehaves.
Middle and Young Adult readers will be able to relate to Audrey’s desire for autonomy and her displeasure for always being in the public’s eye. In the first few pages, Audrey sets forth her first lesson for being America’s First Kid. “Someone is always talking about you or your mom.” (Page 13)
Throughout the book, Audrey tests the boundaries between parental authority/security concerns and being an average kid who likes to buck rules. Most of her attempts to widen her perimeter are defeated as she struggles to find a way to take charge of her life. Loneliness is her fallback position.
Fortunately for Audrey’s sake as well as the pace of the story, Rebecca skillfully adds an additional layer to the story. Audrey fortuitously finds a hidden diary that supposedly was written by Alice Roosevelt, a former First Kid. Through Alice’s words, readers get a glimpse of what life was like in the beginning of the twentieth century. Rebecca does an excellent job of showing the similarities and differences of the two eras.
Rebecca adeptly weaves together fact and fiction to create a charming diary that helps Audrey see her challenges in a new light. In one of the early entries, Alice writes- “I should have expected the volume of rules surrounding me would only grow once we took up residence in the White House. I can’t stand for them, though. I am positively allergic to discipline. I think I have mentioned that my aim is to eat up the world.” (Page 46)
Audrey periodically shares entries to the diary. Sometimes Alice’s words affect Audrey’s thoughts and behavior as she tries to sort through the trials and tribulations of living in the White House. Even though the reading of the diary is a one-way relationship, it is therapeutic for Audrey to connect with a former First Kid who experienced some of the same limitations. She emulates many of Alice’s antics and looks to her for consolation.
These diary segments reveal important elements of Alice’s life. Occasionally, these portions are longer than necessary. This could cause some readers to start skimming through the diary parts.
The unique relationship that develops between Audrey and the diary is highlighted in the following passage: “Maybe I need to live more like Alice. I took a paint pen and wrote “WWAD’ on an old bangle bracelet—What Would Alice Do?—to remind me to stop waiting to feel better, and fill what was empty. If ‘To Thine Own Self Be True’ was Alice’s motto, WWAD would be mine.”(Page 143)
Audrey’s interaction with her family, White House staffers, and friends illustrate her spirited and self-centered personality and the maturation process that is an essential part of adolescence. While Audrey’s mischievous actions are considered age-appropriate, more conservative minded parents and teachers may frown upon the references to her poor judgment. Less mature primary school readers and children coming from conservative households may not be comfortable with the references to same-sex marriages. However, the majority of readers will applaud Rebecca’s desire to highlight life in the 21st century.
This entertaining middle level novel introduces memorable female characters that magically draw interest to an earlier point in time. Most educators would agree that students need to be exposed more to history.When Audrey Met Alice is a welcomed addition to bookshelves in homes, libraries, and school classrooms.
In exchange for an honest review on Amazon and my website, I received a complimentary copy of When Audrey Met Alice." Sandra said.
"Every girl grows up, but not in the White House. Facing challenges of loneliness than many could relate to, Audrey finds comfort and companionship in a diary she finds. Issues of boyfriends, friendships, kissing, breaking family rules, smoking, and connecting with family are raised. This would make a fabulous mother-daughter book study for middle schoolers and would be a great springboard to what your personal family values are." Amanda at The Educators' Spin On It said.
"I loved this book. It is very interesting to hear about how Audrey feels about living in the White House." Silvia P. Mcneal said.
"First Daughter Audrey Rhodes is having difficulty adjusting to life in the White House. She left her friends behind in Minnesota, making new ones at her new school is not easy with a Secret Service agent in tow, and delivery pizza is always cold. Mostly, she’s lonely as her mom, the president, is always working and her dad, a researcher with an onsite lab, is never around either. So when she finds a diary hidden away by Alice Roosevelt, she’s intrigued by the experiences of that long ago First Daughter. Soon, she finds inspiration from Alice’s capers.
When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens is a cute story about a modern teen who finds solace in the words of a contemporary from more than a century before. It’s a good contrast between realities of life in the two different eras. It’s also fun to read about the antics of Alice Roosevelt, well known in her time for pushing boundaries and getting into trouble.
Audrey discovers that taking refuge in the story of a life from the past is fine, but ultimately it doesn’t take the place of communicating with the people important to you in the present. I recommend When Audrey Met Alice for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review." Cynthia Hudson said.
"From the opening scene of the failed pizza party, I could tell this was going to be a fun MG book. But it’s so much more than that. While only a handful of people know what’s it’s like to be a “First Kid,” most of us can relate to the pains of being in eighth grade. Audrey is trying to fit in at school, crushing on a boy and wishing her parents (and all the other adults in her life) would realize she isn’t a little kid anymore. And most of us probably did over-the-top things to prove we were oh-so-grown-up. Luckily, our tween/teen antics weren’t reported by the media for the whole world to discuss.
Then there’s Alice who lived a lifetime before Audrey but who’d been in the same position. Her diary entries are great, so full of personality. After I finished reading, I did some research into Alice and was happy to learn Emily Spinach was real. If you want to know who that is, you gotta read the book!
WAMA is an interesting mix of the past/present, told in a way that’s funny, sweet, smart, and sometimes painful – there’s a scene that involves a librarian reading to kids and I wanted to hug Audrey afterward. Definitely check it out!" Jennifer said.
"I am the mother to two girls, 11 and 13 years of age as well as an elementary teacher. I am not able to recommend this book because in reading it I felt the author had an agenda to push for homosexual marriage, which is highly inappropriate to be presenting to this age group. A nine year old does not even need to be reading about these hard-hitting political and moral issues in their recreational reading. My daughter read this book and asked me to read it (the 11 year old). She enjoyed the story, but we had a nice chat, too, about the importance of discerning why an author includes the details they choose. For me, personally, the homosexual political understory was highly unnecessary and not appropriate for the younger set of age group this book is geared toward. This age of children is either still innocent of sexual thinking, or just emerging into it. The books we allow our children to read and the other media we expose them to will greatly play a part in shaping their minds. I'm not fooled for one moment to believe that the author wasn't trying to brainwash the minds of youth to adhere to her personal political agenda. I don't believe we need to censor this book, as I'm sure some parents would be fine with this, but because of this, I can not recommend this piece to anyone. As well, I believe parents ought to know what their children are being exposed to, so I felt it necessary to complete a review on this book, so they can choose whether or not to allow it to be read, and to have a healthy conversation about it." Heather Simnitt said.
"Another book from the list of politically oriented YA. This was the most juvenile, but also the most fun and really got into some relevant stuff. I can only imagine Audrey as Amy Klobuchar's daughter. :-)" Emily Ann Meyer said.
"Love this book! I read it first to make sure it was appropriate for my ten year old niece-- it was absolutely perfect!
Fun, fast-paced, and heartfelt.
Don't pass this one up." Kim Liggett said.