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The Luckiest Girl (1958)

by Beverly Cleary

Series: First Love (book 2)

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6581333,889 (3.62)1 / 9
Shelley has high hopes for her junior year of high school. Everything is going to be different. This year she is going to California to live with family friends and she will be free to run her own life. Now she's about to discover the magic of falling in love - and a whole lot more!

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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I think my Vintage Book Circle and I agree that this was a lovely book. We did feel that the Shelly felt very adult in her perceptions. I remember reading this in junior high and very much taking it to heart. I pondered things much as Shelley did. I think I was the outlier though. We wonder how modern young people would enjoy it. I feel like now it is historical fiction. There were many things that I had kind of forgotten about, that youngsters these days would be puzzled by. It was nice to revisit it. ( )
  njcur | Mar 30, 2023 |
Another throw back to the 1950's but this book has a totally different voice. It's still dated, certainly, but it doesn't feel as screamingly obvious. Shelly comes closer to passing as a typical teen of today.

This is one of the rare books I read as adolescent that stayed with me over the years, although I'd long forgotten the title and the author. Flashes of scenes would pop into my head at random moments here and there and I started to think I'd need to hunt down the book to re-read it. Then I was cleaning up some book records and there is was.

Shelly is an only child with a helicopter mom and a typically 50's dad in Oregon. In a fit of pique after an argument over a rain slicker one morning, she shoves her mother's roses down the garbage disposal. Coincidentally, that same morning her mother received a letter from her old college roommate, inviting Shelly to come live with her and her family for the school year in California. Desperate over the idea that her life is never going to change she begs her mom to allow her to go.

Decades later I still really like this book. Shelly's wonder and openness about a new place, a new style of living, meeting new people - all of it was inspiring. I feel like lately I'm surrounded by people who are only interested in judging and questioning my differences (expat) instead of enjoying (or hell, I'd just take respecting) them, so I think Shelly's attitude particularly stood out and struck a chord for me.

I also got a big kick out of reading the scenes that involved Shelly with her host family, Mavis and Tom. Tom is especially enlightened even by today's standards. It's Tom that rounds up the family to do the washing, then the ironing. Tom that makes his daughter practice the piano, Tom that tells his kids when it's time for bed. He also coaches the high school basketball team and runs an orange grove. The man has got it going on.

The Luckiest Girl isn't strong on plot, but like Fifteen the author makes her main character be honest with herself and own her mistakes and her bad choices, even if sometimes it's only internal. If the book had no other moral lesson, there's something to be said for honest self-reflection.

This one is a keeper. ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 24, 2022 |
Very sweet. The setting may be dated and the customs strange compared with teens now a days but I think the sentiments are still true. ( )
  wrightja2000 | Sep 6, 2018 |
Be sure to read past the first few pages - it gets quite a bit richer, as Shelley learns more about school, families, communities, herself, and, yes, love. Of course it's slightly dated, with the inherent gender=related expectations of the 50s, but still valuable, and heart-warming to boot. I liked it even better than [b:Fifteen|994232|Fifteen (First Love, #1)|Beverly Cleary|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328087052s/994232.jpg|1127886].

I do wish the poet, Jonas Hornbustle, and his most-known work, Buffalo Bones, were real. Do any of you know if, perhaps, Cleary was inspired by a true work?

I especially liked the description of young love: Not the love-for-keeps that would come later, but love that was real and true just she same."

I like how there were hints revealing the perspective of the different boys - but I'd like more. Do any of you know of any older, more innocent, stories told from the boy's perspective, or have any similar recommendations?" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I take back all the snarky things I said about this book, I clearly (Cleary?) had it confused with some other malt shop romance. I found this to be a solid portrayal of adolescence. Shelley is perhaps a little more self-aware than the average teen-aged girl, but that's the only quibble I could find with this delightful story. Recommended! And thanks for the push, Wendy. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
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One Saturday morning early in September Shelley Latham sat at the breakfast table with her mother and father.
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Shelley has high hopes for her junior year of high school. Everything is going to be different. This year she is going to California to live with family friends and she will be free to run her own life. Now she's about to discover the magic of falling in love - and a whole lot more!

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