Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fiction Tuesday - My Sister Mike


Recently, someone brought this donation in. Oh, it's quite a treasure. Probably one of the earlier Young Adult books around written in 1956.

When a handsome male athlete from the rival high school asks Mike out for a date, she at first thinks he was looking for her glamorous sister Pat, generally considered one of the prettiest girls in the high school. However, it is worse than that: he asked her out to fulfill a bet. Stung, Mike decides it is time to abandon her careless jock demeanor, and put on some makeup and a dress, and now the joke is on Jeff, who finds out too late he has hurt her feelings and that she is really quite attractive - but sees right through him. While there are some very sexist elements to Walden's writing, her characters ring true (at least in a 50s world) and the sports scenes are always vivid and accurate.

Amelia Elizabeth Walden was born January 15, 1909 in New York City, and died in 2002. After graduating from Columbia University in 1934, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, also in New York. From 1935 to 1945 she taught English and Dramatics at Norwalk High School, Norwalk, Connecticut. In 1946 Miss Walden married John William Harmon. This was also the year that her first book was published. At the request of her editor she revised the manuscript, entitled Gateway, to fit a new genre emerging at the time, called the "young adult" novel which was aimed at a post-adolescent but not yet adult audience, approximately ages 16 to 18. She is considered a pioneer in this area of American literature. Miss Walden found success writing for this audience, and commented, "I respond to young people because I remember my own adolescence so vividly - and fondly. It was a period of total involvement, of enjoying life to the hilt."

Miss Walden wrote over 40 novels published by McGraw-Hill, Lippincott, William Morrow, The Westminster Press, and Appleton Century-Crofts. She was residing in Westport, Connecticut when she died.


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  2. Wow, so interesting! I never thought about what the first YA novel might have been, so thanks for dropping this knowledge. I agree that the storyline does sound kind of sexist (it was the '50s!), but then again, the old betting on a geek and getting a beauty queen trope remains alive and well today. It's icky but says a lot about life -- which can be useful. Also, I'm sure it was fun reading about the less problematic aspects of retro life (I'm talking to you, poodle skirts!).

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