Sunday, February 08, 2015
Old School Sunday-- Debuntante Hill
Old School Sunday is a feature by Katie over at Story Time Secrets. She featured this same book there on 7 December 2014!
Duncan, Lois. Debutante Hill
September 17th 2013 by Lizzie Skurnick Books (first published 1957)
Lynn Chambers is a bit excited that a debutante season has been arranged by the unfortunate Brenda's mother, especially since her beau, Paul Kingsley, is off to college. The parties will give her something to do during her senior year. Unfortunately, her father, who is a doctor who ministers to everyone in town, including the poor, tells her that she will NOT be going to the parties, because they will serve only to socially divide the town even further. This is a bummer, because all of her friends ARE going to the parties, and Brenda even gets Paul to take her to some. Understandably upset, Lynn manages to get herself invited out by the poor and dangerous Dirk, who takes her out to a road house and is generally a bit rude to her because she has money and he doesn't. Lynn does start to understand a bit what it is like to not have the advantages that she has had, and her sister Dodie, with whom she hasn't gotten along, shows her that just because people are Not Our Kind doesn't mean that they are bad people. Except for maybe Dirk, who falls head over heels with Lynn, gives her his mother's jewelry, and then generally acts dysfunctional.
Strengths: This is a fascinating look at this time period. I bought a copy to go with The Outsiders unit, and I think it would be good to read in preparation for that book, since it predates it. It's by Lois Duncan-- her first work, in fact, and one for which she won the Maureen Daly Seventeenth Summer First Novel competition. It's forward thinking for the time (and I collect teen novels from this period, so have read a lot), and holds up well even today. The best part, however, is the level of detail about everyday life at the period that a modern book would never begin to match, from the father calling Lynn "Daughter" to the clothes for dates, lingo, etc. Very fun to read.
Weaknesses: Modern teens will find the writing a bit stilted, and might not believe that things were as portrayed in the book. I almost with Lizzie Skurnick books had gone with the original cover! (Although another blogger points out that this photo has a teenage Lois in it!(http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2013/10/debutante-hill-book-review.html)