Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dear Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew, 
River Heights, 
C/o Carolyn Keene 

Dear Nancy Drew,

Growing up, girls of my age didn’t have to look far to find feisty teenage girl role models. We had you.

You were smart and clever, and not afraid to follow up with clues and solve crimes, even if it put your life in danger. You had courage and a thirst for adventure.

I used to follow your adventures avidly, exchanging books with my friends, and furiously ticking off the books I read.

I admired your solid friendships with your crime solving partners Bess Marvin and George Fayne. What I liked about you was the solid middle ground you treaded. Chasing criminals didn’t turn you into a tomboy, nor were you too feminine for comfort. Even though you were “unusually pretty,” you didn’t allow your looks to straitjacked you into traditional roles. You were someone that I could relate to.

You had a boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, but that fact was merely incidental. Romance was on the backburner and the adventure of solving mysteries took centre stage.

You were always friendly and you went boldly forward in your quest for adventure, thinking nothing of putting a few things in the boot of your car and sallying forth. Your only weapons were your intuition, independence and intelligence.

When you were not being an amateur sleuth, you would participate in athletics and enjoy the arts. Sometimes you would volunteer, but none of these activities took up too much time. Somehow unsolved mysteries always found their way to you.

Along the way, you became a mythic supergirl for whom nothing was impossible. You could ride horses, change tires, drive superbly, fix motorboats, and walk fast and far without showing any signs of tiredness. You were a good painter, and spoke French and played tennis expertly. You danced like a dream, and you could be cool in any crisis. You showed us that there was nothing a girl couldn’t do.

I loved the fact that your father, a famous lawyer, respected your abilities and took fierce pride in them. Sometimes he discussed his cases with you, proving that he valued your opinions. Backed by an indulgent dad, you went ahead, living your dreams and achieving your goals. You didn’t have to labour under parental demands that you return home by a certain hour or else…

You had no responsibilities, except those that came of being the sole woman in the house, and even those, your housekeeper Hannah managed admirably. You didn’t have to turn in any school assignments or study for tests.

Living in a suburban home, protected, even cosseted, by my family, I longed to experience that kind of freedom and independence.

Within the pages of your book, you lived the life I longed to live.

Lost in the pages of your book, I lived your life vicariously.

What I didn’t like was how you changed in later years. You became more feminine, less assertive. You needed to be rescued yourself sometimes. Your confidence gave way to fear.

Why did you have to change?


  1. I never read Nancy Drew, mostly because my sister (who was the big reader at that time) read the Trixi Beldon series.
    Also, wasn't Nancy Drew in some way related to the Hardy Boys? I seem to recall they either featured together in books or were owned by the same book company. I was young then, so I don't recall exactly.

  2. I never read Nancy Drew either. Not sure why not.

  3. When I was growing up, Jeffrey, Nancy Drew was everywhere. Trixi Beldon, on the other hand, I've never heard of. Must look her up.
    You're right. I think they were owned by the same company. Occasionally, they would combine the characters from both series. The result was not satisfying.

  4. Hmm, Denise, maybe you had some other character around that was more fun.

  5. I loved reading Nancy Drew books when I was a teenager. How I wished I could be like her, solving crimes and living an excitement full life. I also read Hardy Boys but their books were not so interesting as ND :)

  6. Good old Nancy Drew. You made me want to read those books again. I loved Trixi Beldon too.

  7. I liked reading Nancy Drew novels too :) I haven't read much though as most of the books I read during my childhood were comics of regional language but I was lucky to get my hands on few Nancy Drew books in a nearby library :)

    New Moon

  8. Nancy Drew!!!!! She is my most fav!! I have devored every single book....and whenever a mention of Ned Nickerson was made, I would swoon!!! I so loved this one!

  9. Cynthia, I was speaking with a cousin last night and mentioned to her your blog and that I had never read ND. Yet she and I were always reading. Neither of us could remember what we read in our youth.

  10. Prasanna, the Hardy Boys series was targeted at boys. I guess that is why few girls could relate to it. We liked the idea of a young girl solving mysteries, getting into danger and out of it on her own. :)

  11. :) I feel like reading Nancy Drew again too, Suzy. You know of Trixi Beldon too?

  12. Swathi, Nancy Drew helped a lot of us, growing girls, to forge our own idea of our self, our identity and independence. Even if those ideas were all theoretical. Personally, my life was far removed from Nancy's but I could relate to her all the same. :)

  13. Little princess, we liked everything about Nancy, didn't we? If you read the newer books, you'll hate her. She's nothing like she used to be.

  14. Denise, I can't remember every single book or series that I read as a child either. But somehow I find that they have all contributed to making me the kind of person I am today.



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