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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Smart Girl

Smart Girl - Sandy Miller

Books like these showcase the genius talent of Judy Blume for writing books for teens that feel like they're coming from a teen's perspective.  Sandy Miller is no Judy Blume.


I remember reading this way back when, but the only vague memory I had was that it appealed to me because the MC, E.E. was a very late-in-life child for her parents, as I was.  At the time, I probably overlooked a lot because of that, but after reading it again some 30 years later, forget it.


The message is an age old one - several age old ones, in fact: just be yourself, people need people, when it comes to friends, take the first step, take pride in your appearance, etc. etc.  But the writing is so clearly done by an adult who is lecturing their reader via parable that it's hard to take it seriously.  Imagine this scene, and substitute any 4 teenaged girls you know:


"Um...well...like my clothes," [E.E.] said, hesitating.  "I can't afford to just go out and buy all new things, and the ones I have are pretty blah."


"That's no problem," Rita said. "Your clothes are basically fine, if you just dress them up with a few bright colours."


"Why don't we come over one evening?" Sheryl suggested. "We'll go through your wardrobe and the three of us can decide exactly what you need."


..."You'll probably be surprised  at how little you need to buy," Sheryl continued enthusiastically.  "A new scarf or belt can work wonders."


Said no teenaged girl, ever.  I know some pretty awesome, responsible, teen-aged girls and none of them would have ever had a conversation even close to this.  Then there's the actual event, where the girls empty out E.E.'s wardrobe, make a written inventory of it, create outfits out of everything and then come up with a list of accessories E.E. can buy to round out her wardrobe.  This is a scene written by a grown woman who has forgotten or refuses to remember what being a teenage girl is all about.


Don't get me started on E.E. being scarred enough to become a "cold and hard" girl after one study date with a boy - a boy she admittedly didn't like much - turned out just to be a study date.  There's not a thread of authenticity in any of the characters in this book.


Still, it earns points for being published in 1982 and featuring a girl who is not only very intelligent and places a high premium on being intelligent, but whose favourite subjects are science and math, and for never once insinuating that this is weird, special, or rare.  That alone gets this book 2 stars.