Fifteen by Beverly Cleary

I’m sure my classmates would disagree with me, but I’m really enjoying the sheer variety of books being shoved down our throats we are lucky to have on our syllabus.

We have read a good number of Printz winner, Newbery Awards both old and new. We read books for young children published in 1944 (Nineteen Forty-Four! Books older than our parents!) and books for older teens with late 2009 pub dates (although those are somewhat annoying to find at the library).

I like it. I do, I do. It makes me happy, to be reading all these books that I would never read otherwise, and it’s making me want to read more widely, just because now I know it’s just as much fun as reading narrowly. If that makes sense.

Anywho, this week I spent a few hours reading this gem of a retro-read

This book didn’t win any awards, in 1956 when it was published. It has very few redeeming features, no plot to speak of, and Jane is the precursor to every modern YA narrator whose sole personality trait is “low self esteem.”

That being said, I am happy to read new things, and I was totally into this book. In an ironic kind of way. Like watching Stick It.

It did, however, bring some new perspective to my life.

  • I am glad girls are now allowed to call up boys. Many a chapter of Jane’s teen angst could be solved if she was allowed to do anything more than wait by the phone.
  • I am glad Chinese food has been sufficiently Americanized that I am not de facto afraid of eating it. I’ve never sat and stressed about the precise contents of my moo goo gai pan because it never occurred to me that I should do anything other than eat it and say “mmmmmmm.”
  • I am glad doggy diets do not regularly consist of freshly delivered horse meat.
  • I am glad YA books that use the phrase “horse meat” more than five times in a chapter are a thing of the past.
  • I am glad that I have never felt a compulsion to order coffee when I wanted a chocolate coke float, to dress like the most popular girl in school to impress a boy, or to be anything other than my charming (or not so) self around guys. Maybe this is unusual, but it has saved me a lot of stress over the years.
  • I am glad I get to read crazy books like this one and then go to class and listen to how my classmates will attempt to academicize it for 90 minutes. My life’s entertainment these days.

All that good feeling aside, my MacBook broke this morning. The backlight mechanism has failed. So I can’t see my screen. And the Geniuses say 180 bucks. Which I don’t really have.

What I do have is 1/3 of a novel left to write in 8 days, including 2 days spent entirely in a vehicle, and three more weeks of class.

And a backup desktop, I guess.

And my boyfriend calls me back.

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7 Comments to “Fifteen by Beverly Cleary”

  1. You should also find “The Luckiest Girl” by Ms. Cleary. I remember reading it in one sitting on a Sunday afternoon when I was 11 or 12… aka too young to know what the teenage years would really hold. I’d love to read it again, but I don’t want to lose the memory of being stretched out in the sun and devouring a book in two hours.

    • The Luckiest Girl is definitely of the same ilk. I was hoping it was a sequel! Anyway, I’d recommend keeping that one in your dear memories. I’m thinking it would, if nothing else, raise your feminist hackles (if you have any).

  2. I’m trying to remember if I ever read this one. I don’t think so. I read all the Ramona books, but I think this one seemed too adult to me at the time.

    • This book was SO far from Ramona! It revolves entirely around one girl’s attempt to find a boyfriend, but in the 1950s when she can’t actually have any agency in her own life. No one is funny or plucky or clever. I really hope that Beverly Cleary didn’t picture Ramona growing up to be like Jane!

  3. Awesome! I’ll have to look through your syllabus more carefully!

  4. So, I am stalking your blog now. I have it linked to mine. 😉 Quaint is the word I like to use to describe “Fifteen”. And I agree. It is amazing how a little bit of communication can ease an awful lot of unnecessary stress…

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