Monday, February 8, 2021

Beverly Cleary Author Study: Fifteen

No illustrations because this is Beverly Cleary’s first young adult book. Fifteen-year-old Jane Purdy wants to find a boy to date and spends a lot of time imagining how things will play out. Jane does meet a boy and starts to date him, but has to navigate that new part of her life and how insecure it makes her feel.

There was a nice balance of Jane being young but independent with her babysitting business and being unsure of how to handle herself on a date, with how she learns by experiencing things and becomes wiser for it.

This book definitely seems pure and innocent compared to contemporary young adult - and of course, it was a different time. The writing and plot reflect that, so overall the book seems classic and graceful. The first young adult book is thought to be
Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly, published in 1942. (I have this on my TBR stack to read, so I’m interested in comparing the two.) It’s also worth considering Robert Cormier didn’t start publishing “dark” young adult books until 1960. To put things even more in perspective, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders was published in 1967 and Judy Blume’s Forever was published in 1975.

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