Thursday, July 18, 2019

#ThrowbackThursday- Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year in High School

Flower, Jessie Graham. Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year in High School
May 15th 2019 by Laboratory Books (originally published in 1911)
Library copy

Grace and her friends are back at school, and they are concerned about the basketball team. Grace has been elected captain, but Miriam wanted the position badly and isn't happy. The junior team, captained by Julia, is being very mean to the underclassmen, and Grace is kerflummoxed as to why they are acting so reprehensibly. Julia even goes behind Grace's back and gets permission from the principal to use the gym when the sophomores have already been granted it by a teacher. Since this is 1911, however, Julia is called on the carpet in front of a lot of the girls, humiliated, and made to apologize. And her parents don't try to sue the school! There are other things going on in Grace's world, and she and her teammates hang out with the boys Reddy, Hippy and David (who is Miriam's brother!), and even when she injures her ankle and must stay on the couch for a week, classmates come over for cocoa and plates of fudge! When the junior girls beat the sophomores and are suspected of having the sophomores' secret signals, everyone blames Anne, since her father is an actor and her family is poor. Grace refuses to believe the rumors and sticks by her friend, even though this causes her to almost lose her captaincy. In the end, Anne is not guilty, and the girls try to move on despite the negativity of the junior girls. I can only imagine the social savagery that will occur in Grace Harlowe's Junior Year in High School, since sororities are involved.
Strengths: Admittedly, these are books that I buy more because I love them. How fun is it that they were published when my grandmother was in high school? And the original cover appears under the dust jacket? There is a particularly helpful preface that talks about the state of women's rights at the time, and has fantastic pictures of girls' basketball teams from this time period. There is also discussion about changing social mores-- at the time, poor people were though to be not as acceptable, and anyone with a disability or different ethnic background was likely made fun of. I wish that this sort of preface could be written for things like Little House on the Prairie! I was surprised at how well the story line holds up-- mean girls are always with us, I guess. Sure, the language is stilted, but the sentiments are the same. Some of the chapter illustrations are kept in, and the Gibson Girl quality of the outfits is amazing. Fantastic choice for girls who are in to the history of sports or historical fiction.
Weaknesses: The language is the biggest stopping point here, and the plot is a bit hokey at points.
What I really think: I probably won't buy any more, since the whole sorority-in-high-school thing confused ME when I encountered it in 1950s teen literature, but the first two were a justifiable purchase.

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