The Best Version of Alice – By Merrill Davies
Despite the fact that Alice Jarvis has made it through almost three years of debate, she is still extremely shy. During the last tournament of her junior year at Closeville High School, her friend Sophie confronts her with her need to conquer her fears because “you might need to help a friend.” Sophie’s statement leaves an impression on Alice and challenges her.
Throughout the summer and fall, Alice struggles to deal with one friend who has been given a few months to live, and another who has major family struggles. She wonders if she’ll ever have the confidence she needs. The question posed by Sophie haunts her. Would she be able to help a friend who needed her?
She makes some progress. She tutors Sophie in writing during the summer, and encourages Juan as he deals with his cancer, but the real test will come in the spring. Will she be strong enough to report the abuse she knows is happening, even when the abused won’t admit it, and the abuser is well loved in the school community?
Merrill Davies taught high school English for 31 years and served as debate and literary events coach and yearbook advisor. The Best Version of Alice is her fifth novel, and she has published one volume of poetry, Branches of Love (Nurturing Faith, 2018). She is active in Toastmasters, Rome Area Writers, and her church.