After Alice


by Gregory Maguire


William Morrow


Reader Appeal: Teens and Adults


Genre: Fantasy


PopFam Rating: B-


Gregory Maguire has written some of my favorite books, including Wicked (the book on which was based the hit musical), Son of a Witch, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I’ve been a fan of his so when I saw he’d written After Alice, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to see what this one was all about.


After Alice draws from the mythology that Lewis Carroll created for his classic works, Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Maguire’s book is made up of two stories—the story of Ada as she falls down the rabbit hole and searches for Alice, and the story of Lydia, Ada’s older sister, and her day of looking for Ada. I liked the different stories—they added variety and gave some different perspectives on the time period.


Maguire is a wordsmith almost to a fault. Just about every sentence contains a glorious and obscure word. In fact there are so many of these that the need to look them up to know what they mean can get distracting…or make you feel like you should have a broader vocabulary!


Gregory Maguire is also known for using his stories to make social commentary, and After Alice is no exception. He includes Darwin as a guest of Alice and Lydia’s father, and uses that as an opportunity to add opinions about religion and the origins of man. At times it gets a bit heavy-handed, which I found kind of disappointing.


I’m still a Gregory Maguire fan, but I’m going to go ahead and admit that After Alice wasn’t my favorite of his books. Still, reading this one made me want to go back and re-read Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which I think will be fun. There were a lot of references to Alice in Wonderland that I missed because I hadn’t read the original book recently. Maybe I would have enjoyed Maguire’s book more if I had.


Parents and thoughtful, fantasy-loving teens will still likely find After Alice an interesting read. It isn’t really a fairy tale for younger kids, though. It’s not that the content is inappropriate, but it’s likely over their heads.


PS. If you read this one, you might want to keep a dictionary handy while you read—you’ll need it!


Let’s Talk About It


If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:


• What's going through your mind after finishing After Alice? Explain.


• What was your opinion of the detour in After Alice where Alice listens to Charles Darwin lecture about religion and the origins of man? Tell me more about that.


• If you could sit down with Gregory Maguire and talk about After Alice, what would you ask him? How do you think he'd respond?




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