Nancy Drew: the Icon for all Aspiring Young Detectives. Pt 1

In List of Summer Reading, Nancy Drew on June 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm

If you are reading this and you do not know the name “Nancy Drew,” turn around and leave my page.

Just teasing. If you don’t know her, then you should read this post so you DO know her, because it’s really such a shame you’re not familiar with the famous girl detective.

I’ll start by saying that the reason I’m discussing Nancy Drew is because for some reason even I have yet to discover, I decided to re-read all 56 Nancy Drew novels this summer (and although I don’t feel like publishing my age yet, let’s just say that I’m not an 9 year old. I promise). I am in possession of every one of them, including a few from the collection that belonged to my mother, circa 1970s (it’s a little frightening to see her name scrawled in a little girl’s handwriting fiercely claiming ownership of her copies). For a quick summary of my relationship with the detective, Nancy Drew and her sleuthing skills kept me inspired and in perpetual awe for the majority of my young childhood. Although I cannot remember (sad face) the exact year or age I started reading her, I believe it was probably at a very young age, like 7 or 8. I can’t remember when I finished the 56th novel, either, although I clearly remember the feeling I had when I read the last and final page. Bereft would most accurately describe it. Lost. Forlorn, despairing, as if I had reached the final chapter of my childhood.

I suppose one reason for why I decided to pick up the series again is that I’m between a young person and an adult right now. I am expected to have a job this summer, and I’m living in a foreign country without family or friends for 4 months later this year. Still, I can’t find a summer job, so I rely completely on my parents financially (it’s so depressing), and I’ve felt for over a year like I’m stuck in this limbo, a glass ceiling where I can see all of my friends, my age and younger (aghh), making their own way financially and independently. Maybe I hoped to find encouragement, inspiration, and also solace for my childhood inspiration. Nancy Drew is, essentially, more independent than most 18 year olds are in the 21st century. It’s frightening, really.

I believe that one reason Nancy Drew became so popular is that she represented independence, strength, intelligence, and success to young girls pounding through the Great Depression. Nancy lives in an affluent area of River Heights (not a real town, but most likely shares characteristics with towns Keene knew), her father is a successful criminal lawyer, she has two amazing best friends, a great “boyfriend” (and I say that in quotation marks because Keene is rather mysterious as to whether they’re actually together. Sure, Ned is Nancy’s “favorite date,” and they frequently go out together when in town, but Keene never actually labels Ned as Nancy’s boyfriend- or even if they kiss!).  Nancy Drew has the perfect life, as it appears to me in 2012 and how it must have appeared to young girls in the Great Depression and the early ‘40s.

Fun Fact: Carolyn Keene wrote only 23 novels out of the 56 most popular Nancy Drew mysteries (1-7, 11-25, 30).

Fun Fact: Nancy Drew novel was published just nine years after women gained the right to vote!

Word of the Day:

Sleuth: a detective. Synonyms: investigator, private investigator;private eye, gumshoe, shamus.

Part 2 will be shorter (I promise!)


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