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Sue Barton, Student Nurse (1936)

by Helen Dore Boylston, Helen Dore Boylston

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1938103,082 (3.88)49



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  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
I always used to hate it if my mum had to choose books from the library for me, as she wasn't a reader and had no idea of what I liked. This was one of them. It's probably a good book of its kind but I took an immediate dislike to it because nursing was something I viewed as 'girly', the sort of thing my mum probably thought would get me away from fairy stories/fantasy...it didn't work! ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Sep 21, 2013 |
Published by Little, Brown in 1936, the first book in this popular series introduces us to 18-year-old Sue Barton as she embarks on her nursing career. Boylston’s portrayal of the career girl provided a role model to millions of girls and paved the way for other popular career novels. Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, published in 1943, was another successful series that also mixed the career and mystery genres.

The book follows Sue as she navigates her first year in nursing school. In those days, girls boarded at the hospital and spent most of their time in classes and in shifts on the various wards. Sue makes fast friends with Kit and Connie, often runs into the handsome Dr. Barry, and endures the harsh teaching of Miss Cameron. The chapters are mostly episodic and mix fun stories of the girls sneaking into their dorm with tales of Sue dealing with unruly patients. Sue is a likable and relatable character. She makes mistakes, but learns from them, and she struggles with whether or not she truly has the selflessness to be a nurse. Some of the other characters are well developed, but many, including the patients, tend to be one-sided. The overall tone is very light and it’s quick to read, though it does touch on a few darker subjects, including suicide, and some of the descriptions of medical care deserve a skim. Most of my enjoyment came from the novelty of looking back at a bygone era and I suspect that will be its only appeal for modern teens. ( )
  wsquared | Mar 12, 2010 |
This book series by Boylston made me decide that I wanted to be a nurse. I remember checking them out at the library and reading them again and again. That was the image of nursing that I carried in my head while I was growing up; of course my experience of student nursing and then "real" nursing was nothing like these books, this first in the series written in 1936. Since Boylston herself studied nursing at Mass General before WWI, the stories of red-headed Sue and her nurses' training friends are even more dated than the 1936 publication date would suggest.

When I was reading a biography of Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I discovered that Boylston and Lane were good friends (maybe more than friends, I don't know, don't care) and that Boylston probably had the idea about writing the series when she was living at the Missouri Wilder farm. Rose encouraged her to write, and it's ironic that Boylston was far more successful with her writing than Rose.

I absolutely hate those modern book covers, by the way. They're anachronistic and absurd. I bought the paperback reprint set that was published in 2008 by Image Cascade Publishing. The books were orginally published by Little, Brown, & Company. ( )
1 vote labwriter | Jan 9, 2010 |
Red-headed spitfire Sue leaves home for the first time to go to nursing school. Adventures and misadventures ensue. The picture of nurses' training is extremely dated, of course (the book was written in 1936), but a good picture of the times. And the adventures of Sue and her friends are typical of college stories of the day. ( )
  MerryMary | Oct 1, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Dore Boylstonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boylston, Helen Doremain authorall editionsconfirmed

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"This is the story of Sue Barton's first year of training as a probationer and then as a student nurse. Sue, with her red hair and eager spirit, is a very likable person - direct, outspoken, capable of mistakes, capable also of warm attachments and a courageous devotion to the service which she soon loves. With her pals, Kit and Connie, she submits to the discipline and rigorous training which are required of every good hospital nurse. Her love of humor gets her in and out of several scrapes: she tumbles into the laundry chute; she tries to defend her fellow student from the inevitable hazing; she gets into an amusing pickle with an Italian patient who speaks no English. Her warm heart and delightful spirit make friends for her among the patients and even win the occasional approbation of the stern staff. Her femininity has more than a casual effect on Dr. Barry, the ablest of the young interns."
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