Discussion: The Luckiest Girl + April book announcement

March 28, 2014 2014, classics, food in books, readalong, Wendy 88

luckiest girl readalong

 

Welcome to our second Classic MG/YA Discussion! While most readers know Beverly Cleary for her middle grade stories, she also wrote charmingly retro YA books, including the one we’re discussing this month: The Luckiest Girl. (Spoilers below, obviously.)

Let us know what you thought of the book in the comments–we really do chat back with you!–and stick around towards the end for info on the books we’re reading in April/May, too.

 

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Wendy: I love this book! I first read this as a pretty impressionable tween, so I’m curious what both contemporary adult readers and teenagers will think of it. People read historical fiction, of course, but the 50s isn’t a period that gets featured too often. It’s unusual that Shelly gets shipped off to live with her mother’s college roommate for the school year. I spent several summers away from home when I was in high school, and they were a hugely formative part of growing up for me, as well as for my outlook on life. It changes you to live with other people outside your own comfort zone, and to be able to do it within a controlled, safe environment is a pretty cool experience.

Kim: Teen Kim would be super jealous of Shelley. All I ever wanted was to get away from my supremely insular environment and get out and explore the world. I did, once I grew up. But I spent much time as a teen daydreaming of the world beyond my small borders. I’m happy that Shelley got to have such an experience. Getting out into the world challenges you to be and think differently and to grow as a person, which, as we see, Shelley does indeed do.

K.: I never spent a significant amount of time away from home when I was growing up — the most were week-long school trips on elementary and high school — but even from those experiences I could almost feel myself maturing or growing up. Being on your own and handling yourself without the cushion of family really forms a sense of independence that I think is so important and useful.

Wendy: The Michies’ home feels so warm and comfortable and lived in. I would love to stay over in a house like that, where they do laundry by moonlight and have leftover Fridays. (Apparently, I’m not the only one.)

the luckiest girl

Kim: Oh my goodness I just love that family! It was so sweet and idyllic reading about them all doing chores together. Just warmed my heart. I was like, “Look at this sweet little functional family! How cute!”

K: I was definitely charmed by the Michies and their home. Part of me wished this was a picture book because I really wanted visuals of their place. Those orchards just make it seem so magical.

Wendy: I think most girls can relate to the mother-daughter conflicts in this book. The scene where Shelly gets so upset with her mother over buying her a pretty pink raincoat with velveteen collar (I would kill for such a raincoat right now) because she wants to wear an ordinary yellow slicker just like all the other girls strikes such a chord in me–both the memory of being in Shelly’s shoes, and as an adult watching her with exasperation. Isn’t it weird how when you’re young you just want to fit in/belong, but when you’re older you prize being unique?

the luckiest girlKim: Ha, well, I was a very unusual teenager. I was never concerned with fitting in for some reason. Basically, I was an extreme dork and I was fine with it. But I certainly can relate to the mother-daughter conflicts. My general opinions on the world and life philosophies are the opposite of my mom’s so we still butt heads all the time. It is what it is! I really did enjoy the way the conflicts were portrayed in this book, though. It was endearingly comforting to see such a familiar type of banter on the page. I can’t think of anything else I’ve read where I’ve seen a mother-daughter relationship so normally and realistically portrayed.

K: I really liked how Cleary let Shelley and Katie be as juvenile as most teenage girls can be in real life when they’re fighting with the rents. I myself never yelled at my parents like that. I was a generally obedient kid, plus there wasn’t anything too tragic I was denied. What I did get out of that was just the familiar feeling of frustration and indignation — which I buried inside, and which apparently Shelley and Katie let loose.

Wendy: I was a very obedient child, but I was a terrible teenager who yelled at my poor parents, I’m afraid. (Not over clothes, but other Important Things.) I can totally relate to her loving exasperation with her mother, and it’s so nice to read that other girls have gone through this as well.

The scene where Shelly first notices Philip is so dear. I love that she notices the sunburned nose and the way he stands, and the gracefulness about him. I know a lot of YA books get criticized for insta-attraction, and I often hate stuff that’s so blatantly obvious or shallow. But I can totally relate to being strangely drawn to someone’s demeanor, or the way someone says a certain thing, or as with Fifteen, the way a boy wears a clean white tee-shirt and has a dip in his hair. So cute!

Kim: I don’t see a problem with insta-attraction as long as it feels organic to the story (insta-love is a whole different matter). People feel an instant tug toward other people all the time! I mean, I remember when I was 15, I had a ridiculously strong crush on some boy who I’d probably spoken to about a total of three times. In hindsight, there just wasn’t a reason I liked him other than adolescent delusion. I also tried to read this in the context of its publication time and setting. Shelly’s instant attraction to Philip didn’t faze me at all. Why she continued to stay attracted to him was a whole other matter…

K: There is nothing wrong with seeing an attractive person and being attracted to them. I mean, hello. But like Kim says, why did she stay? I get it, he’s cute and he’s nice, but she says they had nothing to talk about… But if you had the most sought-after boy in school chasing after you, wouldn’t you let him hang around, too?

 

Twitter Elliebit

 

Wendy: I love that tweet from one of our readalong peeps! I also find it striking that Beverly Cleary’s YA girls are so ordinary. I mean, I guess that’s part of the appeal of many realistic fiction books anyway, but I think Cleary does a particularly wonderful job of letting us get to know these girls who aren’t particularly outstanding in school or sports or whatever, but who are quietly dreaming and thinking and trying to do the right thing nonetheless. I also think the book is really funny, in a quiet-chuckle kind of way.

A girl on top of the refrigerator was such an improbable thing to explain.

Kim: Oh, I thought Katie was just the sweetest. I loved that she was mischievous but not ill meaning. And it was so endearing the way she looked up to Shelly. The spying on top of the refrigerator scene is too precious.

K: At first, I thought…is she actually on top of the fridge? And then I pictured it and then I laughed and then I thought Katie is the most adorable, most endearing thirteen year old I’ve read. I found she whined a little too much, but then she does something like that and I think ok, you’re forgiven. For now. Katie and her phases.

Wendy: I really enjoyed seeing California through Shelly’s eyes, too. And oh my gosh, guys–I’ve read this book so many times, but I’ve never looked up Giant Oranges, one of the iconic Californian food stands that Shelly notices when she first lands in California and the site of her last date. They still exist! THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY.

Kim: I really loved getting the perspective of a character discovering a new place as well, though it doesn’t have as much meaning to me since I’m not as familiar with CA. And that is sweet that Giant Oranges still exist! Aw.

K.: That’s why I wished this was a picture book. The way Shelley described things made me want to see them myself — which is what’s so nice about her character. Hartley says it after their first date. He says how the way she sees the world makes him see things like its the first time. A very sweet thing to say.

884252Wendy: The food porn in this book is so great, too. I think my love of diners is rooted in Beverly Cleary’s YA dates–between chocolate malts and ice cream sodas and such, I always get such a rush when I sit in one. (I could skip the grilled peanut butter sandwich, though. Gross.) Oh, and the doughnut holes! I think I need to make them soon.

Kim: Ha, and here I was thinking how delicious a grilled peanut butter sandwich sounds. The food porn was really great. We have a local 50’s themed chain in Philly called Nifty Fifty’s and this book made me want to go there soooooo bad.

K.: I’m with Kim. Make grilled peanut butter sandwiches and I’ll eat (try) one.

Wendy: Did you notice that Frisbie points out that “nobody smokes at a school dance?” Implication being, to me, that there was smoking going on in other places, but it wasn’t mentioned outright. This was around the time that the cigarette industry was booming, of course, and getting a lot of airtime on television shows like “I Love Lucy” and the like. It made me curious to see it.

Kim: I did catch that, actually. I am forever fascinated by the cultural phenomenon of smoking and how much it has changed over the past 50 years. It’s amazing to me how something so culturally ingrained can become passe (for obvious and good reasons) in such a relatively short time.

Wendy: Another very 50s thing that happens later in the book is when Katie’s grandmother sends her that hand-knitted peach sweater and she is disgusted by it. It’s so interesting that things always used to be handmade or home-cooked, and then the boom of convenient foods and ready-made clothes became popular. Now we’re in an era where we still rely on packaged things, but there’s value placed on things made by hand again.

Also, I can totally relate to the clothing thing. I remember digging in my heels to a pair of red plaid pants my mother bought for me in the fourth grade, and then later on, changing my mind and thinking they were super cute! Yikes, girls.

Kim: Yes, things do tend to circle back around. I had this beautiful white sweater my great-aunt made me when I was little and it was my favorite thing ever. Only to be worn for super special occasions like Christmas and Easter. I always felt so fancy and elegant wearing it.

Another super 50s thing that had me cringing for these characters was how the boys had to come into the house and introduce themselves for every date. They seemed to be good sports, though! I don’t know if this is still a done thing outside of the very conservative, Catholic circles I grew up in, but even when I was in college, a legal adult, and would go out on a date my parents expected me to have my date come in and meet them first. Just a date! It was the worst. Ugh.

K.: Aww, I actually found that rather charming, how boys came in and introduced themselves. Maybe I feel this way because of the utter lack of respect in society in this day and age. I think in a way, it eases some of that tension between parents and the date. You come in and you say you’re taking their daughter out. You’ll have her home by so and so… It’s just nice and casual, no big deal.

fifteen beverly clearyWendy: I loved that too, actually. It’s all so very well-mannered, and those who have read Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen or Jean and Johnny will note that this comes up in an even bigger way in those books. The Luckiest Girl is a very romance-centered book, but I like that it’s also about Shelly finding out how she feels about an education, about a career, about her mother, about adults in general, and about herself. I also liked the friendship with Jeannie, although I wish we saw a little more of her. This is a spoiler, but that was the friendliest handover of a boy I’ve ever read about or seen, I think!

Kim: This book actually seemed way less romance-centered to me than I was expecting it to be. I guess the addition of all you’ve just mentioned above, Wendy, made it seem like just one part of the whole that is Shelly. It really seemed to me to be the story of a girl, and all the glorious and inglorious aspects that belong to such, as opposed to “the story of a girl who falls in love.”

K.: I appreciated that about Shelly, too. I smiled a little at how shocked she was when Philip told her he had no intention of going to college. I think that was the point Shelley started to close that relationship. And Jeannie. I don’t know how Philip and Jeannie happened and I still think it was a little too good to be true; Jeannie and Philip came out of nowhere, I feel. And I would’ve thought Shelley accepting Jeannie and Philip together so gracefully would’ve been too good to be true also but I remind myself its because she’s so happy with Hartley.

Wendy: I thought the way the author wrote about the gradual transfer of Shelly’s feelings from Philip to Hartley was well done. She planted seeds early on, and it is very realistic to suddenly realize that the person you like isn’t necessarily that person you thought he was at all. Sometimes without him being a bad person, too.

Kim: Oh man, I spent such a large portion of my reading experience in confusion over where this story was going. I was officially rooting for Hartley from the moment I read the line:

…the kind of face that in the movies belonged to the man who didn’t get the girl but you sort of wished he had.

I don’t know why but it totally endeared him to me. And also he was obviously precious with his chores assistance and easy going manner. So I was so confused why Shelley liked Philip so much and kept dating him even though things were so painfully awkward between them. I felt pretty silly that I couldn’t see that this was going to be a story of Shelley making the proper realizations about both boys.

K.: I was pro-Hartley the entire time. He is too cute! As I mentioned earlier, after their first date and what he says to Shelley…I mean I think the girl should’ve taken the hint. Fate is obviously telling you this boy is the one. My confusion was more for Hartley backing out almost completely as soon Shelley started dating Philip. He didn’t even question it really. He just disappeared and then reappeared admitting he still liked her. And I love that quote, too, Kim. This is making me really sad because of what happens in the end.

Wendy: Did you guys like Shelly, by the way? I’m always curious when I come across reviews where readers say they don’t like her. I appreciated how much she grew to understand her own behavior and feelings, as well as her honesty about how little she and Philip had in common–and why she might’ve been enjoying being with him to begin with.

1828957Kim: I did like Shelly. Sure, she was a bit bratty and impulsive in the beginning, what with the roses, but she’s a teenager and this is a story of self discovery and growth. She was so realistically and endearingly flawed to me. And her maturation throughout the story is truly impressive. She made realizations about boys and dating that I didn’t come to until I was older than she is.

K.: I didn’t love her but I liked her well enough. As you both say, she matures a lot and I see that. Especially in the final pages, in her conversation with Katie. You see how much she’s really learned about life. I can’t pinpoint exactly why I couldn’t love her but at one point, after her break up with Philip, she seeks Hartley because she misses the companion of a boy. Um…wow. I thought it was a low blow and she was going to use Hartley. Eventually they fall in love, but that comment rubbed me the wrong way. I also thought she was either a little too naive or too sheltered (both of which wouldn’t have been her fault). I got a little tired after she kept exclaiming in excitement about something new she found in California…maybe it’s just me.

Wendy: Well, I’ve lived in California for 9 years and I’m still marveling over year-round avocados and endless sun and a million other things, so I probably annoy people, too. For me, she’s an extremely relatable character, and I actually appreciated how honest that remark about missing a boy’s company was. I think most of us have had those not-so-pretty thoughts in our heads from time to time that we’d be embarrassed for other people to know about (and she does check herself about that), and I’ve totally had those moments when I feel unreasonably frustrated with my mother.

And by nature, teenagers are pretty selfish and self-centered. Not Hartley, though–Hartley is obviously awesome! The way he is with Katie especially warmed my heart. And that yearbook inscription was pretty sweet.

Kim: Ugh, Hartley is the best. The yearbook inscription gave me actual feels. *sigh* I was super sad that it came at the very end. I wanted moar Hartley.

K.: I liked him a lot too. I would’ve wanted to see more of him. Instead, we spend more time getting to know the wrong guy.

Wendy: Same. But I love the ending scene. I think it was one of the first bittersweet endings I’d ever read, and it so perfectly captures those achingly sad-but-happy moments when you know a chapter of your life is over, and you have no idea what is to come next.

K.: There are some bittersweet endings that I can appreciate but this one wasn’t one of them. I understand it was about growing up and how sometimes you say goodbye to things in order to move on but Cleary gave Jeannie and Shelly some chance of a future meeting but didn’t do the same with Hartley. There was no “we’ll keep in touch.” Just good bye. Its not entirely implausible for them to meet again and the cold, blunt goodbye just hurt me. I did appreciate Shelly’s attitude. It was very mature and encapsulates the purpose of her trip and also, the book.

Wendy: I wish there had been more time for them to spend together as well, but I’ve got to think that the author wrote it that way on purpose. And you know, I probably remember the story more precisely because it is such a lesson in growing up and having to let go of things that are dear.

Kim: The ending of this book made my heart ache. In the beginning when Shelly was all “I’m going to go to California and fall in love!” I was like, “Oh, you sweet summer child. You don’t want to do that! You’re just going to go home again and you’ll be heartbroken!” I was in a long, long distance relationship for many years and the way Shelley feels in her final days was so perfectly evocative of my own experiences. I’ve had so many “final days” like that, and have had to say goodbye time and time again for a long, sometimes indefinite, time. It’s so hard because those times and experiences are so wonderful and worth it, but saying goodbye is just heartrending.

Wendy: Heartrending indeed. All right, lovely friends. What did you think of The Luckiest Girl? Did it break your heart, too?

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April & May Book Discussion

But first: the book we’ll be reading together in April is Anne of Green Gables! After an extremely close race, Anne and A Wrinkle in Time ended up tying for first place, so we thought it was only fair to read one, then follow it with the other. (Poor Harriet wasn’t even close, although hopefully she’ll surface as a favorite down the road.) We’ll vote on the June book next month!

April Book:                  Anne of Green Gables
Author:                        L.M. Montgomery
Amazon Links:             Kindle ebook and paperback
Discussion Date:          Friday, April 25th
Twitter hashtag:         #tmgreadalong

18051146“She’ll have to go back.”

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead–a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

 

The ebook edition linked above is the ridiculously low price of $1.99 right now, and the paperbacks are around $5 each. Obviously, it should be readily available at the library or in secondhand bookstores as well.

ETA: Our friend Jessica from Rabid Reads informs  us there’s also a crazy All the Anne You Could Want dealio which includes all the Anne books plus 100+ short stories for 99 cents! I don’t know how that’s possible, but you might want to grab it now if you’re interested.

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So what did you think of The Luckiest Girl? Are you going to read Anne of Green Gables with us next month?

And how are you doing on your classic MG/YA challenge otherwise? Have you read books other than the ones we’ve read together? TELL US ALL THE THINGS.

 

Wendy signature teal

 

 

 

 

88 Responses to “Discussion: The Luckiest Girl + April book announcement”

  1. Molly McB

    I’m all over this read-along! I haven’t read Anne of Green Gables in over 20 years and she was my first book “kindred spirit!” Living in Portland, OR has its fun Beverly Cleary nostalgia, but Anne was my first true book escape. It would be excellent to read it all over again as an adult. I just saw on amazon you can get the entire series minus Anne of WP & Anne of Ingleside for only .99.

  2. Rachel H.

    I’ve read a few of Cleary’s Ramona series when I was younger & think I might pick this one up, too. Should take me back!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yes, please! I love Ramona so much (as well as most of her other MG books), but BC’s YA is something special, too. I hope you enjoy them. :)

  3. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Sorry I’m late to the party… I’ve never read The Luckiest Girl, but now I think I’ll have to track down a copy, since you all are so obviously taken with it! And I’m delighted – Anne in April and Meg in May? Huzzah! Two of my favorite YA heroines, back-to-back. (I’m doing a happy dance right here in my office chair. My cat thinks I’m crazy.)

    Oh, and I’ll be joining the Classic YA/MG challenge. There are some lovely books I want to re-read, and hopefully I’ll discover some new ones as well!
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…Sunday Post – 4/06/14

    • Wendy Darling

      Um, I”m sorry I’m late to the party in responding! We’re usually good at keeping up when these are first posted, and then we get distracted.

      I’m SO glad you’re going to give TLG a chance. If reading this discussion piqued your curiosity, I bet you’ll enjoy it. I’m glad you’re joining our challenge, too! I’m enjoying reading these with you guys even more than I thought I would.

      And yesssss. Anne, then Meg. We must have been very good girls indeed to have it turn out this way. :D

  4. Tabitha the Pabkins

    Gosh I don’t know if I yelled when I was younger. I really don’t think I did. I was always going about my own business which usually didn’t involve any trouble.

    But you know you’re right I really can’t think of many books that feature the 50’s. Seems most shoot for the 40s or 70s?
    Tabitha the Pabkins recently posted…Misadventures in Blogging (1)

    • Wendy Darling

      You never yelled at your parents as a teenager? Man, I feel like such an awful kid now. I mean, I never said really horrible things, but I was definitely prickly and difficult and occasionally lost my temper. My poor mother!

      Yeah, the 50s is maybe perceived as too sunshiney, so that modern day writers or even readers might not find that too interesting. I love it, though–some of my favorite MG books were written and set in that era. And you know how in recently published YA historical novels, most of them still feel like they were written now and aren’t quite so seamlessly comfortable in the era? I’m really curious whether anyone would even try to do that with this time period. 40s and 70s were full of more outward conflict and drama, so they’re also a little easier to use certain historical benchmarks or flashier style.

      • Tabitha (@Pabkins)

        Well don’t feel bad mom wasn’t around to yell at and Dad…well he was one of those ‘puts the fear into you’ dads so there would be no yelling at that man! I yelled plenty at my sisters to make up for it!

        I agree they aren’t seamless and always feel a touch out of place. YOu know what would be really fun to read and I might only be saying this because I read READY PLAYER ONE a few months ago – but the 80’s. I’m a 80’s baby and I love that decade and everything in it.
        Tabitha (@Pabkins) recently posted…Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

        • Wendy Darling

          Oh, I probably wouldn’t yell at your dad either, hah. He sounds intimidating. :P

          And I got your email, btw! It’s been crazy here, but I will send you a response soon. Funny timing.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, that’s awesome, Savy! Which book or books are you gonna read? I’ll keep an eye out for it! (And I’ll be by to visit you soon–it’s been so busy over here.)

  5. Jen @ YA Romantics

    I haven’t read this book in a long time and have much stronger recollection of Fifteen, but the point about Cleary’s YA heroines being so non-exceptional is a great one. I remember really being able to relate to Jane’s insecurity and uncertainty as she goes out on her date.

    This is such a fun project — can’t wait to see the Anne discussion!

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics
    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted…Fool for Books Giveaway Hop

    • Wendy Darling

      YES. I’ve read FIFTEEN a lot more than I’ve read TLG, and I completely related to her, too. I knew many more girls who were not so sure of themselves than I did the Marcy types who were (or at least seemed to be) completely self-confident and sophisticated. It’s such a sweet book, too.

      I’m so excited about Anne, too! I’m about 5 chapters in and enjoying myself so much.

  6. Tanja

    This is really interesting but I totally agree that 50’s don’t get a lot of attention. I guess people want to forget everything that happened there but a nice story could really make that period more appealing. Well I have never heard of it and I’m quite surprised by that but I’ll try to find it at the library for sure. Great discussion :)
    Tanja recently posted…(Giveaway) Thank You – Here’s The Book

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m glad we’ve convinced you to give it a try, Tanja! It’s a sweet read. I wish we saw more books set in this time period, but I guess getting the tone/feel right would be hard, too.

  7. Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

    I loved The Luckiest Girl and am so happy you chose this book! I might never have discovered any of Cleary’s YA if you hadn’t. I enjoyed that the style of this story is different than most other realistic YA I have read, and really “enjoyed” the reading of the book. I had a feeling that Hartley was going to come back into the picture, and I thought that Philip seemed rather boring! I’m glad Shelly came to her senses. I could relate to the challenges Shelly faced with her mother, but I could also relate to the dinners at Tom and Mavis’s house. The descriptions of California were delightful, and I loved Shelly’s sense of wonder at life in California. I grew up in Northern California but moved to the East Coast for seven years and have just recently moved back. So, I can appreciate Shelly’s reflections about the state. And, I’m so excited because I just discovered there is a Giant Orange Cafe about 15 minutes away from me! When I go I’ll definitely tweet a picture. :)

    I’m beyond excited that Anne of Green Gables is up next and then A Wrinkle in Time. These are two of my favorites!
    Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday for Dorothy Must Die

    • Wendy Darling

      It makes me super happy that you liked this, Katie! And that you’re going to be trying out her other YA books as well. I agree that the Hartley thing was telegraphed pretty early on, but it seemed fairly realistic that she could be and was interested in someone else, too.

      The California appreciation is just wonderful. I’ve lived in southern California for 9 years and I’m still not over all the wonderful things that come with living here. You’re so lucky that you live near a Giant Orange! I’m going on a road trip in a couple of weeks up north and we’re planning on seeking one out, too.

      See you soon for Anne and Meg!

  8. Jennifer | Book Den

    Oh, The Luckiest Girl sounds like it was such a wonderful read. What a great discussion. I may have to pick it up one day. It’s one I missed when I was young.

    :D Now I’m glad I could never make up my mind between Anne of Green Gables and A Wrinkle in Time. A tie! Anne of Green Gables is out of copyright so you can find the ebooks on project gutenberg and the audiobooks on librivox, too.
    Jennifer | Book Den recently posted…March 31 | Currently Reading

    • K.

      The book was definitely worth reading. I think Cleary is one of those classic authors you have to try at least once…you know?

      Another ones I haven’t read are the two nominees! I’m Canadian and yet I’ve never read Anne. Bad, bad. Now it seems I have no choice, haha!

    • Wendy Darling

      I couldn’t believe it ended up in a tie, Jennifer. All month long, the Anne and Meg kept edging each other out, hah. But it worked out well! Now we get to read both back to back.

    • K.

      I’ve never read this one, either but maybe it was because when I was teen, I didn’t read teen books and we didn’t have the kind of book community we have now, so perhaps my reading range wasn’t quite as broad.

  9. Diane

    Whoops! I messed up on the date of the discussion. But I sure enjoyed reading all the comments that were made about the book.
    I read The Luckiest Girl. It wasn’t one of my favorite Beverly Cleary stories, but it was well worth the read.
    It was fun to read a book set in that time period. It was a little early for me as I wasn’t in High School until the 60’s, but things weren’t that different for me. I loved the setting of her home town and the memories she shared because I live in Oregon, only 100 miles south of Portland. Her description of the seasons and trees and even the drinking fountain were so familiar.
    I enjoyed the relationships that Shelley experienced and what she learned from them. Especially at the end where she understood the perspective from both the Moms and the children’s point of view.
    Thanks for choosing The Luckiest Girl. I wouldn’t have picked it up on my own and it was well worth the read.
    I’m writing April 25th on my calendar and joining in for the discussion of Anne of Green Gables. Can’t wait to read it again. It’s been so long I don’t even remember the story at all. Can’t wait for the May discussion also. A Wrinkle in Time is one of my all time favs.
    Happy Reading Wendy.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, no worries! We’ll probably be discussing on the last Friday of every month, and we’ll be around to respond to comments for a few days afterwards, too. Sorry this response comes so late, too.

      I suggested this one because I thought it might work best for contemporary readers, but I confess I probably love FIFTEEN more, if only because Jane is so relatable, and I read it more often! Plus Stan Crandall is just ever so dreamy. I’m glad you enjoyed the book, even if it wasn’t your favorite, either.

      It must be fun to read this book since you live in Oregon (hey! I’m visiting soon for the first time! Am going to try to read the two Cleary biographies before I go, too), and your high school years followed not too long afterwards. I love books set during the 50s and 60s, and I’m always glad to find more of them.

      I’m glad you’ll be joining us for Anne and Meg! Especially since you’re a little fuzzy on the Anne details and can fall in love with her all over again. :) Happy reading to you, and thanks for discussing THE LUCKIEST GIRL with us.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, there were some good tweets that came out of this readalong, and I had to share my favorites. :) I pretty much love all the Cleary books, though, with very few exceptions. That’s saying a lot, considering how man books she published.

  10. Kelly

    I love these blast from the past rereads ladies, they are one of the top blog posts going around. With so many new YA novels being released every week, I’m sad to say that I haven’t read any of the typical classics, but this one seems relevant even today. Gosh, some of those covers are truly hideous though. Would love to join in for your Anne of Green Gables readalong.
    Kelly recently posted…Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

    • K.

      I’m ashamed too, because I haven’t read many of the ones we’ve been choosing. Some of them I hadn’t even heard of before! But I agree. It’s fun to look back, especially to see the difference of YA then and YA now. Big diff.

    • Wendy Darling

      Aren’t these rereads fun? We’re having such a good time with them! And yeah, we wanted to spotlight some classic titles since so many bloggers and readers get so caught up in shiny new books that we sometimes forget about lovely classics.

      I’m glad you’re joining us for Anne! I just got confirmation that we’re going to be able to give away some awesome books with it, too.

  11. Alise

    Fun post, definitely making me feel nostalgic :) I remember being gifted The Luckiest Girl (the pink cover version, I’m not sure if the green one would have appealed to my seven year old self, haha) for my birthday but didn’t end up reading it until I was much older. I don’t remember too much about it now but agree about the ending and the mother-daughter thing. Totally something I still to this day can relate to ;) Great discussion!
    Alise recently posted…Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

    • K.

      What I really liked about this book was that it was…smart. If you know what I mean. It was trying to sell a dumbed-down piece of entertainment. It was real and relatable and still charming and readable. Props/

  12. Rashika

    So many feels from reading your guys’ post. I absolutely LOVED Beverly Clearly’s middle grade and grew up with it but I had no idea she wrote YA as well until you guys announced this book.

    I’ve never actually been away from home but for the most part I’ve had other opportunities to grow and mature. I like Kim was/am a pretty odd teen because I don’t care about fitting in so much. Over the course of a couple years, I’ve learnt to accept myself more.

    The romance sounds (including spoilers) so heartbreaking you guyssss. I am kind of glad I didn’t read it. I would be so sad about how Phillip and Shelley didn’t work out even if I was rooting for Hartley the whole time. Sometimes I just want to kick back with a book that I know everything will work out in you know?

    I ABSOLUTELY adored reading your discussion ladies.

    I am crossing my fingers that you guys won’t read A Wrinkle in Time (if you do) before June because.. that is one I’ve wanted to re-read for a long long time and it was one of my favorites! I really do wish I could join you for Anne of Green Gables since I’ve had that on my TBR list forever but alas I cannot :(

    • K.

      I know what you mean about reading books where you know it will just be a good old plain happy ending, haha. I read another book called The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay and even though it was published only several years ago, it also had a real retro vibe (I don’t know why, it could just be me). Anyway, it also had an ending that tore me…even though I may have been the only one disappointed (it seemed best for the characters). So, maybe stay away from that or give it a try. I still enjoyed it.

    • Wendy Darling

      You might give FIFTEEN a try sometime if you’re curious about Beverly Cleary’s YA books but are uneasy about the little bit of heartbreak in this one, Rashika. That one’s also more romance-centered, and the boy is pretty swoony. :D

      And oh dear, we ARE reading WRINKLE in May! I’m sorry the timing didn’t work out for you, but we’ll still chat with you about it if you read it in June.

  13. Heidi Schulz

    This book solved a mystery for me, as Wendy knows. I and always remembered a book from my childhood where a girl wanted a plain yellow rain slicker that she could mark up and get grubby. Instead she got a hateful, pretty, feminine one. I couldn’t remember what the book was, but that scene, the injustice of it had stuck with me through all my growing up years.

    When I saw the cover last month, I mentioned that it reminded me of that long forgotten book, and Wendy filled in the blanks: The Luckiest Girl *was* that book!

    It was so much fun to read this after all these years. There were many scenes that made me feel like I was at once the teen girl and the mother. I felt sympathetic to both positions. For example, the roses in the Disposall (how I loved the archaic usage of that brand name). I can sharply remember destroying metaphorical roses myself, and feeling both justified and guilty at the same time.

    But now, more often than not, I’m the mother in that scenario, trying to sort out where my good intentions went wrong. “I know I ordered salmon when we went out to dinner last time, but it was only to see if I still hate it. Why did you buy some? You know I don’t like it!”

    The quote that resonated the most with me this time was this, “Maybe that’s the way it was with mothers and daughters. No one ever won.” That statement would be really sad if it wasn’t delivered with Katie curled in her mother’s lap, their fight set aside. No one won, but they love each other and at least at that moment, had called a cease fire.

    At face value, that statement is pretty negative, but it is delivered in such a sweet, hopeful way.

    I was also so interested in the parallels between Shelly and a young Beverly Clearly. In one of her autobiographies, I think it was in A Girl From Yamhill, she talked about going to live with a friend of her mother’s in California. I think it was her first year of college. Her mother was controlling and difficult, even choosing Beverly’s boyfriend and forcing the relationship long past the time Beverly wanted to give it up.

    She didn’t want Beverly to go away, but her father insisted it would be good for her. Beverly escaped the oppressive relationship with her mother and was able to break things off with the boy.

    She also wrote about the novelty and joy she took in having avocados grow in the backyard! (Her enthusiasm resulted in some dramatic weight gain, as would my own, I’m sure.)

    Beverly Cleary has always been a favorite of mine. Reading this made me love her all the more.

    • Wendy Darling

      It must be so interesting to read this now with a daughter of your own, Heidi. I don’t have kids yet, but I feel the sympathy and frustration with both Shelly and Mrs. Latham when I read this one as an adult! I loved the proper noun for Disposall, too–it’s funny how brands like Xerox and Kleenex and Google can be so part of our culture that they become verbs or nouns in their own right.

      I had a fascinating discussion with a friend on my FIFTEEN review on GoodReads, in which she also told me that there were elements of Beverly in all her YA books. She posed the question: did Beverly grow up to be Shelly Latham, Jane Purdy, or Jean-what’s-her-name? I want to find out! As you know, I’m going to try to read these before I head up to Oregon, so I’m excited to see how her life informed her work. It’s interesting to hear that about Beverly’s mother, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and discussing with us, Heidi! Sorry this response came so late, I got distracted by…SQUIRREL!

  14. kimbacaffeinate

    I had no idea Beverly wrote middle-school teen books. Fantastic discussions and I am excited to share this with my niece. She is in 6th grade and an advanced reader..I think these would be perfect. Ooo and I adore the Anne of Green Gables series. loved them!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath

    • Wendy Darling

      She DID. And they are wonderful. Or at least I think so! I think 6th grade is actually perfect for these. Contemporary teens are probably beyond this level by the time they reach the protagonist’s age (and so the book can feel even more dated), but for a tween who is just beginning to explore her own boundaries, it might feel a little more grown-up.

      Excited to hear you’re an Anne fan, too! Yay.

  15. E

    Great discussion, guys! Lots of fun to read.

    I didn’t really enjoy The Luckiest Girl if I’m honest… rather hesitant to say so here because everyone else clearly did! For me, it felt so much like a nostalgia trip, and one that I couldn’t be a part of, that it wasn’t that fun. I couldn’t relate to a lot of the things because it was very American culture specific (I’m in good ole England) but I think I also had a rather different sort of upbringing. I didn’t go in for swooning over boys and fighting with my parents. I sometimes wonder if I missed out, but I didn’t get that sense reading this if I’m honest.

    It was okay, for me. I hope I don’t offend anyone (!) but Shelly sort of irritated me, although I realise she was behaving in ways that would have been normal at the time and for her age. She just seemed so… shallow, I suppose.

    Anyway, thank you for the discussion – I will keep reading as it develops! And I’m looking forward to Anne of Green Gables a lot.
    E recently posted…Book Reviews: Frog Music and The History of the Rain

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh no, I’m certainly not offended, E! This type of book caters to a rather specific taste and interest, I think. I didn’t grow up during that era, but I watched a lot of old television shows and read a lot of books as a child set during that time, so I have very fond associations with this type of Americana. I’m always curious how very specific cultural experiences translate (not literally, necessarily) in popularity to other countries; things that are a big part of my own childhood like the Little House books aren’t as well known in Australia and the UK, from what I understand.

      Apart from the cultural thing, realistic fiction/romance-centered books are also extremely polarizing. Thank you for discussing this with us, though! I hope you’ll enjoy Anne more. She’s a Canadian treasure, of course, and the stories are old-fashioned and lovely in a very different way. A more classical way.

      • E

        It is very interesting to note the difference in cultures and being able to appreciate “retro” sort of books. I spent a lot of the book not knowing what a slicker was, and I was certainly one of those people who had never heard of doughnut holes!

        It will definitely lovely to reread Anne of Green Gables. I wonder if you set a British classic, would all you yanks (:P) feel differently about it?
        E recently posted…Book Reviews: Frog Music and The History of the Rain

        • Wendy Darling

          Hah, I can see how that might be confusing. I’ve read a fair amount of British Lit, but I would LOVE your suggestions for British children’s classics. Particularly ones that are more obscure, but worth hunting down. We already have a short list of books for the readalong from previous solicitations and our own interests in hosting, but certainly I’m always looking for myself, too.

          I love that aspect of reading where you learn so much about different customs, though, and associate certain things (especially food) very strongly with my experiences in reading them. For instance, I will never be able to see Turkish delight without thinking of Narnia, of course!

          • E

            I’ll try to come up with some of my childhood classics. I loved loved loved the Swallows and Amazon series, and just about ANYTHING by Noël Streatfield, particularly Apple Bough. These might be aimed a bit too young… Still worth reading! I’ll keep thinking.
            E recently posted…Mother’s Day

            • Wendy Darling

              I liked the Shoes series so much as a child, and have always meant to reread them! I haven’t read the one you mentioned, though–nor have I heard of the other series, so thank you for the suggestions. I’m bookmarking to look into those sometime when I get the chance.

  16. Heather@The Flyleaf Review

    This was such a fun re-read for me Wendy! As I told you, I read this book, as well as Fifteen by Cleary (which is my fave and yes, I still own my little paperback procured from one of those Scholastic classroom book orders,) when I was in middle school–that would be the early 80’s, so the book was already a few decades old when I discovered it. You know the thing that I noticed most was that even with so much time between this book’s publishing and today, essentially Shelley’s trials and tribulations aren’t so very different from those featured in today’s YA. Rebellious teen girl learns some life lessons while traveling to another area–and falls for the wrong guy only to discover that the right guy was right under her nose the entire time. I still got butterflies reading the way toned-down by today’s standards, yet still sweet and swoony parts, with Hartley and Philip. I still laughed and cringed at some of Shelley’s more embarrassing moments. It was a really nostalgic read for me and I found myself smiling a lot as I read.

    Something I picked up on that I, of course, couldn’t have 30 years ago when I first read was the biology class scenes with Philip early on in the book. Did anyone else feels shades of Bella and Edward in Twilight when reading Shelley and Philip sitting side by side in a science classroom feeling all awkward around each other?? Hmmm….wonder if Stephenie Meyers was a Beverly Cleary fan:)

    This was fun, ladies–glad I joined in! And, guess what? I HAVE NEVER READ ANNE OF retro readalong too:)
    Heather@The Flyleaf Review recently posted…Book Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz + GIVEAWAY

    • Wendy Darling

      I loved those Scholastic mailers and book fairs! Such a big highlight of school life.

      I love what you say about how what Shelly went through isn’t all that different from what kids go through now–the specifics of the circumstances may change, but the motivations and themes remain the same. I think almost all of Beverly Cleary’s books are brilliant in that way, and it’s part of why they are such timeless classics. I still get a little swoony over this too, and this is after years of reading modern YA and much racier adult fiction!

      Nostalgia’s a big part of this for me as well, and it’s for both remembering how I felt when I first read it, as well as for a simpler time that I didn’t even live through. As I wrote on my review of FIFTEEN, I totally get that the 50s were/are presented in a pretty idealized way, but…how nice to enjoy that fantasy of parents always being loving and people always trying to do what’s right, you know?

      I did NOT get Bella/Edward vibes, hah. That’s a great question, though–someone needs to ask Stephenie Meyer if they see her at an event!

      And WHAT, you are an Anne virgin, too? This must change. Must.

  17. Candace

    I haven’t read this one, and somehow missed the announcement (or forgot, which is possible). I don’t know how I haven’t read it but my library must not have had it because I read EVERY book they had. After reading all your thoughts I definitely need to get a copy! I do love Beverly Cleary!

    Anne of Green Gables!!!!! That was the first book that I swooned over a boy. I’ll have to see if I can get a copy and read it. I’m kind of afraid though, what if I don’t like it as much?!
    Candace recently posted…Young Adult Review: Miss Mabel’s School for Girls by Katie Cross

    • Wendy Darling

      Yesss, please give it a chance sometime! Since you read a lot of sweeet middle grade books and are more open to non-typical YA, I feel like you there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this.

      AND OH MY GOD, GILBERT BLYTHE. He was one of my first literary crushes, too. Let’s find out if he’s still just as dreamy after all these years.

  18. Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    I was just about to tell you about that All the Anne You Could Want dealio because I bought that a while back! It also comes with free download links for the audiobooks as well but they’re librivox recordings and those aren’t always the best. I CAN’T WAIT THOUGH!!!!!! So excited to finally read Anne.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Book Review – Cujo by Stephen King

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah hah, I love that you used my very unofficial terminology for that bundle. How is it even possible that all those books are offered? I noticed the audio thing too, but I figured it was too good to be true, so I didn’t mention it. :P

      I’m excited that we’re reading Anne, too. It’s been awhile for me, and I’m happy we are maneuvering Kate and K into finally reading it as well. Yay!

      • Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

        Yeah, the narrator is very poor. And for some strange reason the ebooks are missing Anne of Windy Poplars (#4), Anne of Ingleside (#6) and The Road to Yesterday (#9). So it’s only 1-3, 5, 7-8. Which I find strange. It also has her Story Girl series which is another I haven’t read nor have I even heard of it till I purchased that. I just started Anne today and am already to the third chapter. She’s such a charming little girl. :)
        Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

        • Wendy Darling

          Oh wait, the 99 cent deal is missing 3 books? How weird! It’s also strange that no one else has noticed. I usually only reread the first few books until Anne’s marriage, though, so maybe others are doing the same.

          And yay! Anne readalong! I’m 5 chapters in at this point. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far. Although knowing you, you might be finished, hah.

  19. Brenda

    I’m so glad that I got to read The Luckiest Girl. It resonated with me on so many levels. I wasn’t the one who wanted the rain slicker but I sure had a strong desire to get a class ring and letter jacket like everybody else was getting in school. I had to giggle because I had the same kind of it’s not practical or sensible discussion with my mom and finally agreed on a birth stone ring for graduation. I also found that The Luckiest Girl reminded me of my favorite read as a teenager, The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall. It is also set in the 1950’s and similar themes of wanting to fit in but delves into more scenes with “parking” etc. Thanks again for picking it and I’ll certainly be looking for April’s pick.

    • Wendy Darling

      Brenda! Thank you for stopping by, I enjoyed reading your review of this book on your blog.

      It seems so silly to look back on it, but yeah, I can relate to the “wanting to belong” feeling that you get from having certain items, if not to those specific things. I imagine the arguments and exasperated discussion with mothers over class rings and such have been going on since the beginning of time, hah. (In Little House, it was calling cards and bangs, right?)

      And ooo, thank you for the rec! I haven’t even heard of that book or author, but I’ll have to look into acquiring that. Especially if there are parking scenes, hah! I love these nostalgic reads so much.

      Thanks for joining the readalong and discussion–hope you can join us for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!

      • Brenda

        I meant to add that The Cheerleader has a much more dated feel to it then The Luckiest Girl does. There’s the malt shops, sock hops and girls wanting to get “pinned,” but it does speak to the girl in me. If you do find it, I’d love to know what you think. Count me in for Anne of Green Gables (**hides**I haven’t read it before either).

        • Wendy Darling

          Understood! Thanks for the update. It still sounds like fun to me, and I’ll definitely let you know what I think when I get around to it.

          And yay! Glad you’re going to take the plunge with Anne. Quite a lot of people are reading for the first time (including our own Kate and K), so not to worry at all.

  20. Jenn G

    By the way – anyone have any recommendations for similar books to this one? I already collect some of the 50s/60s “girl series” – Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, Sue Barton… but I’m always on the lookout for new ideas.

      • Wendy Darling

        I go back and forth as to which one is my favorite, Heather–I read FIFTEEN first so I have a special place in my heart for Jane and Stan, but I suggested this one for the readalong because I thought it might be more relatable for modern audiences. I love them both, though! So much.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ooo, Jenn. I have one of the Cherry Ames books but I haven’t read it yet–nor have I have I read Sue or Vicki! Would you say they’re comparable in tone and content? As Heather says, Beverly also wrote a few other YA books, my two favorites being FIFTEEN and JEAN AND JOHNNY, the two books I linked in the discussion. She also wrote a fourth, which was just okay, in my opinion.

      You might also try this relatively new publisher–they have been reissuing YA books from the 1930s-1960s. http://www.imagecascade.com Rosemary du Jardin was recommended to me last year, and while I didn’t love the book I read, it made me really interested in this publisher. By the way, I don’t know if you were including middle grade books from the 50s and 60s, but I love love loved Ginnie and Geneva. That series is also available from that publisher, and you can sometimes find the books on eBay as well.

      • Jenn G

        Just finished Sister of the Bride and Jean and Johnny. I found J&J almost painful to read because it brought to mind all those silly obsessions as a girl of 14/15/16. Yikes!

        As for Cherry Ames/Vicki Barr/Sue Barton – I’d say they are pretty similar in writing style. Cherry and Vicki seem a little like the Babysitters’ Club series – they never seem to get any older even though time MUST be passing for them to have all these adventures! Sue Barton was a little more realistic in that she aged and the conflicts changed. Sue eventually marries and has children and it’s interesting to read about her inner conflict over motherhood vs. career – that seemed a little unusual for that type of series.

        I know I commented about how much I loved the food descriptions, but I think a close second is the description of clothing. Oh, for the luxuries of a store-bought dress! :) The details about fabric, about synthetic textiles making their appearance, the discussion of store-bought vs. homemade. Such fun!

        Next up on the list – the autobiographies.

  21. Jenn G

    I loved this book. In fact, I now have Beverly Cleary’s other YA books on hold at the library! There’s something magical about YA books set in this time period – the simpler, unhurried lifestyle, the innocence of the characters, and, of course, the FOOD.

    The ending made my heart ache a little. I had some goodbyes like that after high school – we knew we were going to different places and knew that we would all be changed and not quite the same friends somehow. I have to admit, though, that I’m a “what-happens-after-happily-ever-after” type reader – I’m not content when stories just end like this. I want another book! What happens to Shelly? Does Hartley run for president? Does Shelly ever look back and wonder what might have been with Hartley?

    Thanks for picking this book!

    • Wendy Darling

      Aw, that makes me so happy, Jenn! I love books set during this time period, too. Do you have other books you could recommend? I love the idealized family life and everyday stories, and yeah, the fooood just makes me so happy.

      Those goodbyes are so tough. I identify so much with that heartache of letting go–I felt it as each school year ended, and then it was magnified two fold when my best friend got married right after college and moved across the country. I vividly remember driving away from her wedding reception with this feeling of happiness for her, but an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness, too, because things would never be the same.

      I was talking to GoodReads friend (who is a children’s librarian) on my FIFTEEN review about this very thing, actually–what happens next? These YA stories were apparently a bit biographical, and she put forth the interesting question: did Beverly Cleary become Shelly? Or did she become Jane Purdy from FIFTEEN or Jean from JEAN AND JOHNNY? I’d love to know what happens next, too. She recommended reading the author’s two autobiographies, which I’ve got in hand and plan to do soon. Maybe she had a Hartley of her own.

  22. Valerie @ Innocent Smiley's Reviews

    WHAT. I had no idea that Beverly Cleary also wrote YA fiction! When I was younger, I read Socks, Ramona (or whatever that title was, I don’t remember), and….wow I’m not sure. I know I read my entire elementary school library though.

    I had no idea you guys did these discussions, it sounds like a lot of fun :)
    Valerie @ Innocent Smiley’s Reviews recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #5

    • Wendy Darling

      *dances* This is exactly why I wanted to do this book for the readalong! People know her from Ramona and The Mouse and the Motorcycle and such, but she wrote a few lovely YA books, too. This one’s my favorite, followed by the two I linked in the post, FIFTEEN and JEAN AND JOHNNY. I hope you get a chance to try them sometime, they’re quite charming if you enjoy sweeter, old-fashioned stories.

      And yes, we just started doing these classic discussions recently–I hope you’ll join us for an upcoming one if you can! Or just add books to your TBR list, too. A big part of this for us is also just helping to raise awareness, even if people aren’t specifically taking part.

  23. Bethzaida (bookittyblog)

    I didn’t read the discussion because I didn’t read the book but I’m definitely joining you guys for the next one. I just bought the Anne collection! So I’ll definitely be ready! Woot!

    • Wendy Darling

      AWESOME. Can you believe that ridiculous deal? I had to update the post at like 6 in the morning when I saw the email from Jessica because I wanted you guys to get it before someone came to their senses and yanked it off the market.

  24. Mary @ BookSwarm

    You know, I haven’t read this one and I thought I’d read every Beverly Cleary there was. The Mouse and the Motorcycle will forever be my favorite of hers but I love the idea of a girl in the 50’s spending the summer away from home. Can you even imagine a family doing chores together like that for real-for real? Sounds like Shelly really grew up during the book in a way that’s hard to do when you don’t travel or get out of your comfort zone (at least it takes longer when you’re there).
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Mini Swarm Reviews: Shaking up worlds

    • Wendy Darling

      My goodness, the number of people who reference M&M! Both Kate and Mr. Darling apparently didn’t read many children’s books when they were little, but they mentioned reading that book. Beverly Cleary has like a 95% win rate with me for both her MG and YA books, which is pretty spectacular considering how much she published. Have you read her other YA books? We wanted to do this specifically because we hoped people would give her YA a chance, too, since she’s more well known for middle grade.

    • Wendy Darling

      I do not understand people who don’t love food porn. Who ARE these people? (They are Mr. Darling, actually. He is indifferent. And yet I ended up being married to him anyway. It’s baffling.) You are my people, Carmel.