I’ve gotten lots of a requests for this one, and I aim to please…
I never read this series as a young gal, so understand that I have no reference to how this would have affected me. But I wish I had, because here’s a series about some seemingly real and likeable characters. Sorry, hard to snark! And you all know how I feel about boarding schools. When I was younger, I saw it as some magical place where if I ever got the chance to go to I would suddenly come into my own, get involved, and be somebody. The idea of living on my own with a whole bunch of students my own age was such a draw for me. Funny, my first college dorm experience was less than desireable and I was so unprepared to manage the things that went with it. My obsession with boarding schools continued through college and I actually had the chance to work at Phillips Academy for a while. I loved it sooooo much and I think just working there for the short time I did just gave me the taste of what I needed about it. I did lots of sitting out in the quad talking about intellectual things and guiding the minds of some bright, rich students. But I’m over that and I am not so interested in furthering the lives of already privileged students. And, since reading Prep, I realize that boarding school would have been a NIGHTMARE for me. [And, I can’t say this enough, but READ PREP IMMEDIATELY. It’s genius.]
Anyway, enough about me! Back to the book! So three gals are transferring their sophomore year to Canby Hall, a private girls’ boarding school.
Dana: the cool girl from New York City. You know what? She is pretty cool. She’s got the New York vibe without being over the top and is not the kind of person won’t shut up about being cool and sophisticated because she’s from New York [cough]StaceyMcGill[cough].
Faith: is Black and from Washington DC (yay for someone recognizing that DC is primarily Black and not just home to congresspeople and young white professionals]. She is a bit tough at the beginning and has her guard up, most likely to protect herself from the racism she’ll get from a prep school. I actually like how the author and the characters acknowledge her blackness and acknowledge that racism and recognize her identity, and not be like, oh and by the way, she’s black. [cough]JessiRamsey[cough]
Shelley: annoyed the crap out of me. She’s from a southern town and spent the whole book homesick and sulking around. But, she comes around in the end and ends up coming back after Christmas break.
When the girls first get there they start hating each other after some miscommunications and its super tense. Dana goes out and joins chorus and gains some confidence to go to mixers and stuff. She meets and gets involved with some Don Juan and there’s some drama with that. (Conveniently, there is an all boys’ school at the next town over.) The nice thing about their dating is not some gooey talking and unrealistic dating but they actually talk to each other and get to know each other. Imagine that? Talking to the boy you are dating about interesting things!
Faith mostly does schoolwork but befriends a girls named Casey, who is kind of a troublemaker and a smartass. She is that way because she has pretty crappy parents who ignore her. One night she almost runs away and Faith goes out and convinces her to come back home, but they have to sneak back in and she takes the heat for it, but it all works out.
They get through their misunderstanding and are helped by their housemother Alison, who is the funky young person who always has the answer to everyone’s problems. Imagine Elizabeth Wakefield all grown up. I don’t know if Allison is also a teacher there, but what a shitty job to be available at all hours to some preteen girls.
Kudos to the writer of this series: the girls have crushes and stuff, but they are pretty focused on school and are written as smart and independent. And they truly do seem to have a friendship that seems fun.
Okay, so I have to insert some snark in here about the cover. I know it is 1983, but their clothes- Yeesh! Dana is supposed to be hip, but what the hell is she wearing? A prairie shirt and baby-poo-green pants? [I seriously think American Apparel clothes are based on clothing from YA covers.] Faith looks about 47 years old. [but the mock turtleneck is back!] Shelley is normally dressed, but her face makes her look like she has a case of the crazies. Plus, she is described as being a bit chubby. If that’s chubby, then we’re doomed.
I’ve had a hard time finding these, but I wouldn’t mind reading a couple more.