Beverly Cleary, author of the famous Ramona Quimby books, wrote the quaint novel, Fifteen, about a first love in the 1950’s. The main character, Jane Purdy, is a fifteen year old girl who dreams about having her first boyfriend. While she’s babysitting the obnoxious, French-speaking little girl, Sandra Norton, Jane meets a delivery boy named Stan who is delivering horse meat for the Nortons’ dog. Jane immediately starts fantasizing about seeing Stan again and becoming his girlfriend. She starts thinking of different ways to run into him and even goes so far as to ask her parents if they can get a dog just so Stan can deliver horse meat to their house as well. Jane doesn’t end up having to scheme at all, because Stan ends up calling her on the phone and asking her to go on a date with him to the movies. This is where the novel begins to show how old-fashioned it is. When Stan comes to pick up Jane for their date, he refuses to sit down and Jane doesn’t realize that he is waiting for her to sit down first. She is also not allowed to go in a car with Stan, but her parents do allow her to walk alone with him to the movie theater.
Despite all the facts that make this book a sweet, corny and typical young romance, the character of Jane Purdy does accurately depict a young girl’s feelings in the early stages of a crush. Beverly Cleary also does a good job of showing the strange and tenuous relationships girls have with each other at the age of fifteen. Julie is Jane’s best friend, but it is Marcy Stokes that Jane is truly envious of. Marcy Stokes is written as the popular blond who has a fantastic wardrobe, the girl every guy in school has a crush on. Marcy also isn’t very nice to Jane and there are a few times in the novel when Marcy seems to want to make Jane feel uncomfortable and small in order to make herself feel better in comparison.
Fifteen is a good book to read if you are feeling nostalgic about those days before you knew what heartbreak was. It is a wholesome, romantic novel that even a pre-teen girl can read and enjoy.
Posted by Naptharoe