No reader can fail to share Jane's breathless excitement or the shattering ups and downs of her friendship with Stan. Because Jane's problems are their own, girls approaching fifteen will take her to their hearts. So will everyone who has ever been fifteen.
How Jane emerges from the agonizing awkwardness of adolescence is the theme of a book whose humor matches that of Mrs. Cleary's earlier stories and whose warm understanding carries it to a new height. It is hard to think of any other American writer who has so successfully put on paper the sorrows and joys and absurdities of girlhood. -- Dell
FIFTEEN was originally published in 1956 which makes it old enough for my mom to have read when she was a young girl. Needless to say, there are a great deal of references which today's girls might not understand (or possibly even think are funny); however, I still think that many of the overall messages in this novel are timeless!
I absolutely adored Jane and even related to her quite a bit. And, I actually think that tons of young girls are going to see pieces of themselves in Jane. So many books that I read are about teens who are special for a specific reason. Maybe because they have a very unique talent, or they are outsiders or for some other reason. But Jane was just an ordinary girl -- like most girls. She was attractive but not beautiful. She made good grades, but she wasn't intellectual. She had friends, but she wasn't in the popular group. She was just a normal teenage girl. And I think that was part of her appeal!
I think one of the main reasons that I loved Jane so much was because she was so innocent and at the same time very honest. I remember when I was starting to like guys how absolutely terrified I was to say or do the wrong thing. Jane was constantly second-guessing herself and her actions from what she wore, to what she ordered in restaurants, to what she said to boys. And she was just so anxious to grow up and get a boyfriend. Despite the 50 plus years since this book was written, I'm pretty sure that most girls still experience these feelings! I love that FIFTEEN demonstrates to girls that it's absolutely okay to have these feelings of insecurity (and that's even normal.)
I can't wait to share FIFTEEN with Booking Daughter. She's only ten so she better not be looking for a boyfriend (I don't even want to think about that yet), but I think she will like reading about an older girl. I am very anxious to see if she thinks the book is too dated, and I'm curious to hear what she thinks of Jane. I have a feeling that she will enjoy this book because she is a tween and still young enough to appreciate Jane and her feelings. Having said that, I have to wonder how this book would play with teenagers since they are so much more worldly than the 15 year old Jane!
Note: There are tons of covers for FIFTEEN, but I actually read the version of the book that is pictured above. It's definitely not my favorite cover since I don't think it captures the essence of the book or the character of Jane.