Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
I reread teenage comfort novels over the Christmas season: Lenora Mattingly Weber’s Beany Malone series of some dozen books.
Originally published in the 1950s, Weber’s books told the story of a middle-class high school girl dealing with dates, money issues, and moral questions. Beany constantly got ahead of herself and had to struggle out of complications–usually caused by choices she made. She was a completely believable girl to me.
I purchased all the books in paperback when my own daughter hit thirteen, hoping to connect with her. She preferred Robin Jones Gunn’s Christy Miller Series, so I kept the books for my own nostalgia.
What surprised me in rereading these books after 35 years, was to recognize choices I unconsciously have made in my life based on what happened to Beany Malone. Writing to girls in the 1950s, Weber talked about sewing projects, cooking tips, how to manage money, and getting along with others. I cook with basic food because Beany demonstrated it was cheaper. I invite people to dinner all the time because the Malones took in strays. Beany’s wedding story didn’t resemble mine, but I recognized the attitude. Why have an elaborate wedding when the point was the marriage itself?
Long ago, an English teacher told us, “The reason we study literature is because we can’t experience everything in our lives. We read so we can know how to react when we hit these experiences in our own lives.”
Beany Malone isn’t great literature, but she did, under the guise of a story, teach me about life.
How about you? What novels have influenced your life–even in small ways?