Elsa, I think

I can’t believe this fall is coming without it being associated with school starting for me. It’s the first time in four years that’s happened! Woo-woo, 2020 university graduate! But even before that, in the years I was finishing highschool, fall was not exclusively school time, nor was it quite the same as anticipating going to school. It’s time for a confession—I was homeschooled. I know, shocking, right? What kind of homeschooler starts a blog about literature? It’s almost like I spent all my time reading and watching movies and living in a fictional world populated with make-believe people instead of socializing with real ones. Ha, it was nothing like that, of course. Of course.

Ahem. So anyway, back when I was still marking days out doing Algebra and Biology, actively avoiding Calculus and Physics, and replacing my literature curriculum with the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, as one does, I came across this book about a homeschooler. Alice, I Think by Susan Juby begins with the titular character getting a rude awakening about how kindergarten children react to individuality and from then on, her path to academic mediocrity as a freewheeling homeschooler is set. Along the way, despite her genuine good intentions, she ends up in therapy, remedial classes, a fistfight, and a few other bizarre situations. Alice’s homeschooling adventures are wacky, yet relatable, while also hilariously extreme, peopled with the most colourful bunch of characters that feel eerily like someone you’ve met sometime in your life. Her narrative voice is at once sardonic and earnest as she mercilessly makes fun of herself and everyone else, while trying to get through life without looking like an idiot. She encounters un-likeminded homeschoolers, her internet boyfriend, some wackjob relatives, and her mother’s hippie acquaintances.

It is one such acquaintance that drives their car recklessly while going on about how free and in touch with her “goddess energy” she feels after her “Letting Go” ceremony. Alice, being jounced mercilessly in the backseat as they fly over speed humps and pass other cars on hairpin turns, narrates, “I’ll tell you, my need to hold on is about a thousand times stronger since [she] started driving.” I thought the part of the quote about “Letting Go” fit with someone Else(a) who had a similar revelation. Because we all know how that went.

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