Fifteen

“All day Sunday Jane drifted around the house in a happy glow, humming Love Me on Monday and hovering near the telephone, because she was sure Stan would call. Monday she stopped humming and hated the telephone, because she was sure he would never, never call. Tuesday he called.

When most of us (me included) hear the name Beverly Cleary, we think of her wonderful children’s series like Ramona, Henry Huggins, or the Mouse and the Motorcycle. She also, however, wrote several YA novels. My copy of Fifteen is marketed as a “Young Love” imprint of Dell, and I have a Madeleine L’Engle book like this as well, but can’t seem to find any information about it.

Fifteen-year-old Jane Purdy believes that having a boyfriend will make her the kind of girl whom everyone likes and admires, who is interesting and self-assured. When Stan Crandall moves to town and makes friends with her, her dreams seem to be coming true. Even with her new-found confidence, however, she wonders whether Stan could want her as a girlfriend. More importantly, does she want to be liked by everyone else because she is Jane Purdy, or simply because she is Stan’s girl?

While reading this I was struck by a dual reaction. Jane is clearly a teen in the malt shop era (the book was written in 1956), when getting ready for a date means pin curls ad lipstick, and going steady means wearing a guy’s ID bracelet. On the other hand, her emotions and insecurities are not that different from those faced by girls today. She worries about her appearance and how she is perceived by the popular girls in school. She argues occasionally with her parents, and has to deal with tough babysitting charges. And like teens everywhere, she has to learn to accept herself for who she is.

I want to keep my eye out for more of these novels, and if anyone has any information on them please do share!

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Published in: on June 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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