I’ve been reading Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen (as I’m working my way through some of the books featured in Shelf Discovery).
First off, how did I not realize Beverly Cleary was born in 1916. I swear I read her as a kid and what she was writing didn’t seem so long-ago. (To the contrary, when I was reading a lot of Erma Bombeck’s reflections on early suburbia almost a decade ago, I realized how different things had become.)
Anyhow, I’m enjoying Fifteen okay. I’m a bit put off by how concerned Jane is about being Stan’s girl. I am enjoying, though, seeing Jane come into her own, realizing that the person she’s so trying to impress most likes her when she’s herself; anyhow, it’s a lot easier to just be herself, although people are inevitably going to laugh at the enormous flower arrangement she brings her crush after he undergoes surgery.
Anyhow, at the same time that I’m annoyed with Jane at times (oh, the last sentiment in the book!), I actually get it, to a certain extent. I was never good at the whole trying to express my feelings of, erm, admiration and crushiness to guys I liked in high school. I was horrible at all of it. Much like Jane, I was constantly thinking, “This is how this could possibly play out,” but I was horrible at the follow-through. Ah, well, my love life has turned out better than I would ever have imagined anyhow. (Insert cutesy wink and a virtual kiss to my spouse here.)
The book was published in 1956 which means that Cleary is writing about a life that is at the same time very similar and incredibly different from what we now experience.
Jane babysits for an hour-and-a-half and is paid 75¢ for her work. I never really babysat as a kid (I still am not comfortable watching other people’s kids), but I’m pretty sure going rate was quite a bit higher by the time I was fifteen.
Stan’s job: he delivers government-inspected horsemeat as dog food. Do dogs eat horses today?
Oh, and what is with all of the talk about the identification bracelets? Why did the boys have these? I get that a boy giving his ID bracelet to someone meant going steady, but I want to see one of these ID bracelets. I wonder if it's what I'm thinking.
For a longer treatment of the book, I enjoyed a post I just found on Vicky and Polly. (I might have to add this one to my infinite blogroll.
P.S. It's a certain someone's birthday today, which reminds me that I've got a yearly date with a certain series of books I'd like to get to.