1 July 2015

Growing Up with Alice

Posted by Reneé Doegar

Who are you?

Growing up is hard. We are always growing up.

Because this is true and timeless, I believe you should read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (regularly, in my opinion); it’s the world’s most helpful guide to growing up.

One of the things I love about this book (as well as its companion, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There) is that, no matter what stage of 'growing up' I have been in, the book has, like a faithful friend and companion, understood me. From being an actual child and recognizing myself in the small, inquisitive (and somewhat smart-alecky) little girl, to my teens when I acutely understood the feeling of displacement – sometimes too big, sometimes too small – to the fear of entering adulthood – tell me you have never thought 'I wish I could fold up like a telescope' – to now (well into adulthood), when I regularly marvel at the weird and wonderful world around me. Sometimes I do so with consternation ('but I don’t want to be among mad people'), sometimes with wonder ('let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all'), and often with the words of Alice echoing in my head ('keep your temper!').

In a piece for the New Yorker in early June of this year, Anthony Lane wrote about Alice and asked, 'But who reads the Alice books nowadays? Everybody knows Alice, but that is not the same thing.' You shouldn’t read Alice because it’s the 150th anniversary (which it is) or because it’s funny (which it is) or because the original illustrations are fantastic (which they are). You should read it because we are all growing up, and we need all the help we can get.