Saturday, July 23, 2011


The Luckiest Girl, Beverly Cleary, HarperCollins, 1958, 297 pp

The Sunday Family Read

This was my top favorite novel when I was a teenager. I don't even remember how many times I read it; at least once a year and every year it meant something different to me as I went through boy friends and heart breaks. I can still recall my mental picture of the pink raincoat with the velvet collar. I don't think my library copy had the dust jacket as illustrated above.

I identified so completely with Shelley being bored with her boyfriend, feeling misunderstood by her mother, making plans to reinvent herself when the new school year began.

Most of all, I envied her for the chance to spend an entire school year away from home in California! I probably first read The Luckiest Girl when I was twelve or thirteen. By the time "California Dreamin" came out in 1965, I had already been dreaming about living in California for years. It took several more decades but now I do!

Reading the book again now, I was amazed by how truly Beverly Cleary captured what it was like to be a teenager at that time. It was the end of an era. The straight (meaning no drugs), good (meaning no sex) teen girl was already a thing of the past by the time my youngest sister entered high school.

I think many teen girls are boy crazy, even today, but man, it was an obsession in the early sixties, because it was the only outlet for mischief most suburban, well brought up girls had. I never even drank alcohol until I went to college. Of course, by then it was the mid-sixties, everything changed and we all just went wild.

Would teens today like The Luckiest Girl? It might seem as old fashioned as Pride and Prejudice. But I am going to see if one of my granddaughters will read it. I will tell them, "This is what it was like to be a teenage girl when I was growing up." They will most likely roll their eyes.

(The Luckiest Girl is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

No comments:

Post a Comment