Rummanah Aasi
   I was a reluctant reader until I reached about third grade. This statement may seem a bit of a shocker to you, considering I'm always reading now. Currently, my reading goal for this year is to read 200 books and I just finished my 106th book this afternoon. I'm a firm believer that no one hates reading, they just hate what they are reading. By my elementary school librarian's and my older sibling's persistence, I got out of my reading funk. I started reading the Ramona Quimby books and then slowly graduated up to new series.
    One of my favorite series until sixth grade was the Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene. I loved Nancy because not only was she smart, but she was also a leader, assertive, and a girl like me. I don't remember her being boy crazy (I vaguely remember her boyfriend, but can't remember his name or any specifics) or ditzy.  She made the impossible possible and all the while being graceful and respectful.
    I remember going to my local Chicago Public Library and come back with a bag full of Nancy Drew Mysteries. If the Hardy Boys were involved then that was a bonus since the book would be larger. Of course at that time, I didn't realize that: a) all the books were formulaic and b) Carolyn Keene was not a real person, but composed of ghost writers who wrote many other popular series. When I came across my next book, Girl Sleuth: Nancy and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to rediscover my love for the character.

Description: Girl Sleuth takes a look at how the beloved female detective, Nancy Drew, was created from the imagination of Edward Stratemeyer in 1929 and raised after his death in 1930 by his daughter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Mildred Wirt Benson, a journalist who was the first to write the novels under the pen name Carolyn Keene. 

Review: I really enjoyed reading Girl Sleuth. Not only did I learn new facts such as Edward Stratemeyer was also the writer of the Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boys, which were all written under different pseudonyms, but I also learned more about the children publishing industry. Nancy Drew is very much a creation of social history, particularly of the women's liberation movement, and of Adams's and Benson's own belief systems. I was very surprised to know that there were hardly any books written for young girls in the 1920s. Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew after observing his tomboyish daughter. He wanted to create a female character that other girls can look up to and aspire. The author does a great job in reflecting how Nancy Drew mirrors girls' lives and the ups and downs of the women's movement, but at times I was confused as to if I was reading a history book rather than a literary criticism. The background information of key moments in Women's History was a bit much and I felt like I was in a Feminist 101 course in college. Regardless, I thought the book was a fun read and think other Nancy Drew fans will appreciate the author's work.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and mention of sex in the book, but mostly in the social history context of the 1960s and beyond.

If you like this book, try: Nancy Drew's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick
2 Responses
  1. Jules Says:

    I LOVED Nancy Drew for all the same reasons. This really looks like a fun book!

  2. It was a really fun book! I didn't realize that publishing books for girls at that time was so hard. Now, it seems like the opposite. Finding books that boys like to read is really hard. If you do decide to pick it up, let me know what you think!

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