Alice and the Fly focuses on a young teenager who has Fanta poured over his head at school, the nickname Psycho and a pathological fear of Them. Whoever Them are. It’s a novel about tough times in school, dealing with mental illness, dealing with dysfunctional social and family life and surviving all of the three.
I found this to be a touching and sometimes disturbing narrative about living with mental illness. Some of the things Greg does are questionable and according to our social structure, “wrong”. Seeing it from his perspective brings with it a different taste, it comes across as very naive and innocent when it can easily be construed as something else, something much more sinister. An interesting idea that has been made before and crops up but is very important to remember.
I found it fascinating how his fear of Them translates into other areas of his life and how his family, his support around him, shapes who he is and how he deals with it. I really liked the breaks between chapters when we get to hear different characters take on Greg and the things that he has yet to do. The story really needed that outside perspective to bring more dimension to it. Without it I think it would have been a little flat.
I have to say that the ending was a little anti-climatic. It’s hard to say how without spoiling it but it lacked a punch and it read as a very placid, though serious, tale. Something that I think can be taken wrongly.
I love that mental health in literature is making tracks now and I like how this novel depicts it and brings it to a basic reality such as school life and walking home from school, etc. I think that it is a great idea to bring these kind of scenarios to people’s attention and Rice did it extremely well.
A good read and I would recommend it for the issues involved rather than the novel itself. Saying that, well written and so easy to read. I flew through it (pun intended).
Alice and the Fly by James Rice