Alison has been described as "sweet", and she is, but she is not by any stretch of the imagination a shrinking violet. Yet her friendship with Debbie Stone, whose boldness is striking, coupled with the fact that she is one of the youngest members of the gang, a year Debbie's junior, inevitably creates a suggestion of such a contrast.
I decided not to "partner" Alison with any of her male counterparts, because there was no partnership to be had. Colin is with Beverley, Paul is by some distance too old, Jim is also too old and in any event goes out with Debbie, and Steve just isn't serious enough to have made for a convincing match with her. Alison is pretty, endearing and smart - she will find love, just not in this particular tale.
THE NEBULOUS BRIDGE
As the story develops and Alison and Debbie to a degree find themselves on opposite sides of the nebulous bridge between childhood and adolescence, it was inevitable that they would drift apart, not necessarily in terms of their friendship but in their interests and associations. That is why as Tina wanders inexorably into Debbie's orbit, so Alison identifies more closely with Beverley before introducing an entirely new acquaintance, Jackie, late into the story.
Alison and Jackie would have been an interesting pairing for any sequel, or indeed had the best year of their lives gone on to become two. Alas it wasn't to be, but more than one reader has pointed out to me how Alison grew on them, considerably, at the second reading. I don't wish to sound boastful, but that was precisely the intention.