Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace

248 pages
Copyright 1947

Thomas Y. Crowell Company
New York, NY

I actually read Betsy Was a Junior in August, but delayed my review because I wanted to post it after my announcement about the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge. I'm planning on one more Betsy-Tacy review this month, but then the rest of the books I read by Mrs. Lovelace will be saved for the reading challenge.

The Plot:
Betsy Was a Junior opens, as do all the high school books in the series, during the last few weeks of summer. While Betsy, now 16 going on 17, has had a wonderful summer at the lake with her family she is excited to get back home to Deep Valley and to school. She's made big plans for the upcoming year, which include capturing the attention of the mysteriously aloof, but very handsome Joe Willard, getting better grades, winning the coveted Essay Contest cup, and joining the committee to work on the Junior-Senior Banquet. If all goes to plan she expects to have the best school year ever!

And at first it seems like it will be the perfect year, especially when Betsy learns her childhood friend, Tib Mueller, has moved back to Deep Valley and the girls in the crowd form the first ever sorority at Deep Valley High. But then a few things go wrong and Betsy's plans start to fall apart or backfire. Before she realizes it she (and the crowd) are headed for trouble. If something doesn't change soon it could end up being Betsy's worst year ever!

My Thoughts:
As is the case with the other books in the series I found Betsy Was a Junior amusing, entertaining, and endearing. And of course it should come as no surprise, to those who've read my other reviews of the Betsy-Tacy series, that I loved this next installment of Betsy's high school years.

One thing I've noticed during my re-reading of this series is the fact these aren't stories filled with fluff. Yes, Betsy lives during a golden age and her life is filled with fun, fashion, and some frivolity, but none of the characters are one-dimensional. Mrs. Lovelace always manages to weave important details and principles into the story that adds a richness and make the characters come alive on the pages. Betsy has endearing qualities, but she she is not perfect. During her junior year she makes some good choices and some not so good choices, which lead to some tough consequences. But she faces them head on and comes out the other end no worse for the wear, but definitely a wiser and better individual. To me, this is the type of character the draws the reader in and gives them a reason to care what happens next in the story.

Another aspect that I love about the Betsy-Tacy books is how Mrs. Lovelace celebrates and honors not only the family and family traditions, but also faith, friendships, and just the little things that make life in a small town during the early 1900s so unique. It's the compilation of all these details that make the Betsy-Tacy books timeless treasures. Yes, a lot has changed in the last century, but the heart of the stories in the Betsy-Tacy books remain as applicable today as they were 50 years ago when the books were published, or 100 years ago at the time the stories were set.

My Summary:
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate Betsy Was a Junior a 5. I love this novel. So much happens and it is a truly enjoyable read, you have to read it!

P.S. Throughout the series the reader sees mention of various books Betsy has read or is reading. I made a fun discovery while reading Betsy Was a Junior. At one point in the story it is mentioned that Betsy reads aloud to her girlfriends from The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I found this amusing because I just read and reviewed that same book in March. And in case your curious, Betsy has good taste in books... I loved The Shuttle.


Anonymous said...

I love the pen & ink drawings in that edition!

Alyce said...

I think that I'm going to have to try reading one of these Betsy-Tacy books at some point after all of the good things I'm seeing about them.