But all of them were growing up, Betsy thought intensely. They would never be quite so silly again. The foolish crazy things they had done this year they would do less and less frequently until they didn’t do them at all.
“We’re growing up,” Betsy said aloud. She wasn’t even sure she liked it. But it happened, and then it was irrevocable. There was nothing you could do about it except try to see that you grew up into the kind of human being you wanted to be.
(from Betsy Was a Junior, page 292)
First published in 1947 and reissued by HarperCollins in 2009, Betsy Was a Junior is the 7th book in the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. I really wish I’d discovered these gems when I was younger, but I’m enjoying them nonetheless. Lovelace based Betsy Ray on herself, and the rest of the characters in the Betsy-Tacy series are based on her family and friends in Mankato, Minnesota. Betsy Was a Junior covers Betsy’s junior year at Deep Valley High from 1908-1909.
Betsy makes a lot of plans for her junior year and has a lot of great ideas that don’t always turn out like she planned. She plans to “go with” Joe Willard, her rival in the annual Essay Contest, but he’s seeing the rich and beautiful Phyllis Brandish, the sister of Betsy’s ex-boyfriend, Phil. So she attends dances and parties with the silent but handsome Dave Hunt. When her sister, Julia, starts her freshman year at the University of Minneapolis and decides to join the Epsilon Iotas, Betsy and her best friends, Tacy Kelly and Tib Muller (who just moved back to Deep Valley from Milwaukee), start their own sorority, the Okto Deltas. However, the exclusivity of the Okto Deltas may have been exciting and mysterious to start, but the consequences threaten to ruin Betsy’s junior year.
Lovelace writes with a fondness and a tenderness for her past and for her family and friends. I love the glimpses of life at the turn of the century — the music, the fashion, the courting customs, the old traditions. And I especially love the happiness and closeness of the Ray family and the innocence of Betsy and the Crowd. There is a seriousness to Betsy Was a Junior that isn’t in the previous books because, for the first time, Betsy realizes that she and her friends are growing up. Life can’t always be fun and carefree, and that’s a lesson we all have to learn at some point. Though I wasn’t as outgoing or popular as Betsy during my high school years, Betsy Was a Junior brought me back to all the fun times I had with my friends and the sadness as we realized we’d all be going our separate ways soon enough. Lovelace created an endearing character in Betsy, a girl who loves life and makes us love her — flaws and all.
Other Maud Hart Lovelace reviews:
Disclosure: I received a copy of Betsy Was a Junior from HarperCollins for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.
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