Literary Fiction (View all)
Alice Bliss is fifteen. She's smart, funny, and clever. Not afraid to stand up for the things she believes in. She also idolises her father and, when he leaves home to fight a war she doesn't believe in, Alice is distraught. She and her mother negotiate his absence as best they can - waiting impatiently for his letters, throwing themselves into school and work respectively, bickering intermittently and, in Alice's case, falling for the boy next door - but then they're told that he's missing in action and have to face up to the fact that he may never return. Telling a story of love and loss, of grief and growing up, of family and friendship, 'Alice Bliss' is a powerful, poignant portrayal of a young girl facing up to the unthinkable. Both intimate and universal, it is, ultimately, a story of a daughter's love for her father.
Laura Harrington is an award-winning playwright, lyricist and librettist who lives in the Boston and Cambridge area. Alice Bliss is her first novel, and like most of her other work, the book deals primarily with the human cost of war. Our protagonist and the book’s namesake is fifteen year old Alice Bliss, a charming, quirky, clever and lovable young woman who leads a comfortable and contented life with her parents and her younger sister in a small town in Massachusetts. She’s reached the age where her relationship with her mother is becoming difficult, but she still bears a deep and uncomplicated love for her father, and indeed is very much like him. When his unit is unexpectedly deployed to Iraq, she is heartbroken, and suddenly finds herself facing all those teenage challenges without him... falling in love for the first time, learning to drive, going to her first dance. She tries her best to take his place, as her mother deals with her own emptiness and loss, but when, a few months later, two soldiers come to their door to report him missing in action, the lives of Alice and her family are shattered and dislocated forever. The small town community immediately closes around them, and their extended family surround them with love and support, but the adjustment is enormous and will take its time. This is a powerful and poignant novel, which shares an affinity with Jenny Downham’s fantastic Before I Die, Victor Lodato’s Matilda Savitch, and Susan Fletcher’s Eve Green; like its predecessors, Alice Bliss is both moving and personal, with a compelling young heroine, but Harrington’s novel also tackles the universal topic of the trials and uncertainties born by those who are left behind when a member of the family is suddenly called to war.