Last week, Kerri wrote about embracing new talent and opening our personal libraries to new authors. While new books promise tantalizing new reading experiences, I am a nostalgic girl. I love to flip through photo albums, revisit old journals, and rekindle my love for the books of my childhood.
When a wave of nostalgia washes over me, I riffle through the dog-eared books that never left my childhood bookshelf. There is no small thrill in rediscovering the heroines (and a few heroes here and there) that were my closest confidants in grade school. From Cam Jansen, the photographic sleuth, to Junie B. Jones, the precocious and troublesome elementary school student, the heroines in the novels I read were always reliable and entertaining. No matter the day or time, Cam and Junie were always willing to include me in their adventures. And they still are.
Of all the heroines of my childhood, my favorite has always been Nancy Drew. I admired the strawberry-blonde sleuth for her independence and verve. She navigated River Heights and nearby towns in her sky-blue roadster, always showing kindness and modesty. We are not talking about the anti-hero or troubled protagonist of today’s YA. Nancy is an amateur sleuth whose sole intention is helping others. Nancy struck the perfect balance between adventure and safety, so as not to tempt her legions of readers to try crazy things at home. She would stumble upon hidden passageways in old mansions, be knocked out by a villain, and engage in a car chase, but return to the safety of her father’s home in River Heights for dinner.
While my affection for Nancy has a healthy dose of nostalgia and a secret desire for mystery without any real risk, I also consider Nancy a trailblazer in literature. Nancy opened up the door for Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior and many others. She is the original “super-girl” as Bobbie Ann Mason wrote in The Girl Sleuth: A feminist guide to the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Their Sisters. For that, we will forever be indebted to her.
This year, my mother rearranged what was once our “play room,” where my old bookshelves sit. Ouch; that was hard to take given my nostalgic soul, but understandable from Mom’s point of view. After all, her youngest daughters are seventeen, and there is no longer any need to for Barbie dolls and children’s books …unless you have the impulse to climb back into that sky-blue roadster and solve another case with Nancy. Which I often do.