Monday, August 13, 2012
Book Review: Nancy Drew
I've been stuck in a reading rut lately. I have been plugging away at Transforming a Rape Culture but have needed to take a break from it because reading an entire book on rape and sexual abuse weighs on me emotionally. It's hard to bear many of those words and realities, no matter how invested in the subject you are. Because of this, I've needed something light and fun to read and for this, I've turned to Nancy Drew.
Nancy Drew is probably one of my top literary heroes of all time. A fierce feminist, able to master just about any skill and never fearful of anything, there's nothing about Ms. Drew that isn't admirable. It's no wonder that women of all ages have fallen head over heels for the young female detective. The books originated in the 1930s, written by various ghost writers under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, as an answer to the female version of The Hardy Boys. Of course, Nancy Drew worked solo, with a perfectly pressed wardrobe and a sporty blue convertible. Nancy Drew was well ahead of her time; An independent young woman of 18, she possesses poise and immense self assurance. Every time that Nancy begins a new daring task, I get giddy with excitement and admiration for the teen sleuth. It's clear why the character of Nancy Drew was inspiration to such great women as Hillary Clinton, Sandra Day O'Connor, Sonia Sotomayer, and Barbara Walters.
The original series starts off with The Secret of the Old Clock in which Ms. Drew falls into a mystery of inheritances and mistaken wills. In just the first book, you already have a sampling of Nancy's many skills and her natural gift of sleuthing. By only the third book in the series, Nancy has had a number of near-death accidents, death threats, dangerous trappings, and boating accidents. Through all this, she manages to keep full composure and maintain her quick wit and appreciation of fine details.
Since original publication in 1930, the books have been re-edited in order to evolve to current cultural standards, including the exclusion of many racist remarks. While reading Nancy Drew, one must keep in mind that they are written with simple language and lack much flourish. Each new adventure that Nancy goes on is elaborate in such a way that they need no extra embellishment. The strong willed young woman's character is enough to hold the reader drawn into each new mystery and adventure.