Who doesn’t enjoy reading childhood classics? I’ve loved re-reading through the Anne of Green Gables series, Little Women, and the Chronicles of Narnia. Occasionally I’ll bust out a Laura Ingalls Wilder classic or a copy of “The Secret Garden.” But now, it was time to mount a re-read of an entirely different scale: I decided to read through the entirety of my childhood Nancy Drew collection in one year.
And it almost killed me.
Okay. I exaggerate slightly. But seriously, this was a ridiculous goal to set!
You’re probably familiar with these yellow, hardcover books. Revised from the original series in the 1950’s, these books are quick and easy reads, featuring kid appropriate mysteries and “adventure.” With 56 books in the series, I was confident that I could breeze through this collection in record time. After all, one kids book a week is no problem for an avid book-lover like myself. Right?
It’s. A. Challenge!!!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love Nancy Drew. But to save you from making a stupid goal like this for yourself, I’ll let you cheat a little and see what I learned while re-reading the entirety of this series:
1. Nancy Drew books are great!!! … for an eight year old…
As a child these books were my go-to favourites for long car rides and lazy Saturday afternoons. Reading these books as an adult meant that I had to rely heavily on nostalgia to help pull me through. Reading a book a week doesn’t seem that difficult until you realize that you’re essentially reading THE SAME BOOK every week for a year.
2. Nancy Drew is secretly a 100 year old woman disguised in the body of a ridiculously fit eighteen year old. There’s no other way to explain how Nancy is so incredibly proficient at so many extreme (and random) skills! Not only can she ski, dance, act, climb, skate, golf, swim, dive, use carrier pigeons, sail, scuba dive, fly planes, trick horseback ride, speak French, draw, and play the piano — she can do it all with EXCELLENCE! Seriously. Where did she find time to graduate high-school and learn all these things? And why has the CIA not scooped her up for training already?
3. Bess is the most relatable character.
Bess is one of Nancy’s best friends and a core character throughout the series. In first few pages of every book, Bess is described as “pretty and plump.” And unlike her cousin George or her “titan-haired” best friend, Bess is somewhat hesitant to get too involved in the mysteries. I mean, absurd, right?!? An eighteen year old girl who DOESN’T want to climb a fence into a yard patrolled by hungry leopards? A girl who would RATHER eat chocolate cake than catch a gang of creepy thirty-year old men who are constantly trying to lock teenagers in deserted cabins and leave them to DIE?
Yeah… I’m definitely 98% Bess and 2% Nancy.
4. Plot lines rely way too heavily on coincidence.
My absolute least favourite part of the books is how “coincidental” everything is! Nancy is constantly and “luckily” stumbling into vital clues. Oh, I’m looking for a missing stained glass window? I’ll choose a random place in the world where one of my cousins lives and… what’s this? The window “just happens” to be there too?!? What luck!
Sorry Nancy, the real world doesn’t work like that…
5. How does Nancy not age in 56 books?
Nancy is forever eighteen and it drives me nuts. I had a hard enough time reading these books in a year – how is it plausible that Nancy managed to solve this many mysteries in that exact same time span?!? And why has she decided to remain an “amateur” detective and not get paid for her work? She doesn’t go to school, she doesn’t work, and yet, her dad is cool with letting his eighteen year old spend thousands of dollars to run around the world and solve mysteries for free!?!
6. Where are all the houses with secret passages?
After searching the entirety of my entire 800 sq-ft apartment, I feel seriously disappointed to learn that none of my bookshelves are covering up secret tunnels filled with treasure. Maybe I’m just buying the wrong bookshelves??? IKEA, GET ON THIS!
7. Nancy Drew is a decent role model.
The Nancy Drew books are a hit with young girls for a reason: Nancy is bold, adventurous, and brave. She’s loyal, stands up for what she believes in, and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. For the time period these books were originally written in, Nancy broke the mould and allowed girls to dream big, non-traditional dreams.
I, for one, would certainly attribute part of my passion for reading and writing to these early childhood books. Now, obviously, there are certain aspects to these books that don’t hold up as well as they could (and drove me absolutely NUTS as an adult reader) but would I still allow my pre-teen daughters to read them?
A resounding yes.
But for sanity’s sake, maybe just not all of them in the same year…
“I thought your name sounded familiar when you introduced yourself. You’re the American girl detective!” (Nancy Drew #41, The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes)