"She had just gone and spoiled everyone’s good time…" or Laura’s Luck

Thanks to Librarything for the image.

I’m certain that by now it’s no secret that I love to curse. I’ll drop an F-bomb faster than a sorority pledge will drop her virginity on mixer night. But not this post. This is a curse-free post. And you know why? Because this book is chock full of good old-fashioned values that I love in a completely sweet and non-ironic way. So if you’re looking for the F-Bomb you can just go…..a-ha. I almost went there.

Laura’s Luck is the second book in a trilogy about two sisters, Amy and Laura growing up in the Bronx in the 1940’s. For a little backstory for the uninitiated, in the first book, Amy Moves In, the two sisters’ lives are turned upside down when their mother is in a horrific car accident. Mom is hospitalized and is expected to remain so for several months. So their dad’s sister, Aunt Minnie, moves in to help care for the girls. Laura’s Luck starts many months after mom’s accident when Aunt Minnie decides to visit other family members. Dad sends Amy and Laura to camp for the summer.

Amy, a ten year old social butterfly, is fine. She takes to camp immediately. But it’s a different story for almost twelve year old Laura, who is clumsy, bookish and shy. Laura immediately has difficulty with camp, not the least of which is that she is bunked with the eleven year olds despite being an extremely mature almost-12. A city girl at heart, she is loathe to enjoy nature. She can’t participate in the sports because of her natural clumsiness. She just generally has a hard time fitting in, and is having a harder time keeping a brave face in her letters to her parents. Laura ends up spraining her ankle and spends some time in the infirmary. The camp director befriends her, brings her nature books and agrees that Laura should be in the 12 year old bunks.

Laura quickly befriends Anne and quickly becomes enemies with Betty. The girls in the cabin sneak out to do an initiation for Laura, but she gets lost and gets the whole cabin in trouble. So Betty hates her even more. She makes Laura’s life miserable so Laura and Anne put muddy worms in her bed.

As the book goes on, Laura comes out of her shell. She ends up being very adept at identifying plants, and saves an overnight campout at a supposedly haunted island when she correctly identifies what everyone thought was a ghostly scream as a loon. On her birthday, her mom sends her a book of Andersen’s Fairy Tales and the whole cabin falls in love with The Nightingale. On the last night, the cabin puts on The Nightingale for their show and Laura even stars as the nightingale. Also, Laura finally completes her initiation in to the cabin.

  • I’m not even kidding when I say what a sweetheart of a book this is. It kinda gives me the warm fuzzies. It was written in 1965, though the story takes place in the 40’s. It’s actually difficult to pinpoint when the story takes place, as the only 40’s reference is to Roosevelt being president.
  • Even so, it’s actually a little disconcerting to read a book that takes place in the 1940’s, yet never mentions WWII. I can’t think of another book like that.
  • Also, every character is female and they’re all shown being strong independent people. So I was surprised on re-reading this book how feminist it feels.
  • Marilyn Sachs sure does love her adverbs. In two random pages, we have the following: “smiled encouragingly”, “looked around indulgently”, “explained triumphantly”, “felt strongly”, “said impatiently.” And as far as the adverbs go, I’m gonna give Marilyn Sachs a pass on it, even though I will argue with anyone (and have!) that JK Rowling’s overuse of adverbs weakened the entire Harry Potter series. So why give Sachs a pass? Well, because this book was written in 1965 and girls reading it then would have been raised on Dick and Jane. So the expectations would be lower. However, I expect JK’s writing to be a little more sophisticated.
  • This is what I mean by old fashioned. At dinner one night, Laura hears the chant from another table: “Amy, Amy if you’re able. Get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse’s stable!” And Amy was looking guilty for having had her elbows on the table! And Laura was “going to have to have a word with her later.” I mean…these girls care about something as quaint as elbows on the table!
  • Ohhhh….another thing I love. Listen to this list of names: Betty, Gertie, Florence, Helen, Paula, Wilma and Ruth. These are names of ten to twelve year old kids (and probably many of your grandmothers!) I hate my name, which totally dates me to the decade of my birth. I always wanted a cool old-fashioned name, and I just wanted to climb in this book and steal Florence’s name. Or Gertie. I’d make a great Flo or Gert, don’t you think?
  • I hope the entire population hasn’t become too cynical to still enjoy books like this. And this is coming from someone who breathes cynicism.

Don’t forget to enter my contest to win two Judy Blume books!

About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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8 Responses to "She had just gone and spoiled everyone’s good time…" or Laura’s Luck

  1. Sadako says:

    I love how quaint things were in the old days. And now in books/TV shows kids talk back and roll their eyes and nothing happens. (I'm looking at you, Michelle Tanner!)Anyway, it sounds like a cool book though was I the only one who generally hated reading about summer camp? Summer camp always seemed like a fate worse than death to me.

  2. Katie Fries says:

    I remember absolutely adoring this book as a kid and I had no idea until now that it actually takes place in the 40s! I guess I read this before I developed my obsession with checking the copyright date (I can actually trace this back to BSC #8). I compare it to other books I read from that era at that time and it really does seem less dated.Do you know what the third book in this trilogy is? I vaguely remember there being one but it doesn't stick out in my mind the way this one and Amy Moves In do.

  3. Jennalee says:

    Ok this is silly of me but I always loved the Molly books for taking place in the 40's.I adore old school names!! If you ever read ANYTHING I've read you'll see :)Yay!need to read this

  4. nikki says:

    Sadako-I never went to camp, and never really wanted to. But I loved camp books for some reason. Katie-The third book is Amy & Laura. Mom comes home from the hospital in that one. 🙂 I also have a copyright date obsession. Jennalee- old school names. SWOON.

  5. Kathryn says:

    Molly was my favorite American Girl, too, because of the 1940s, and started my life long love of historical fiction :)I hated my name when I was young because all the other girls had hip names and I thought mine was so old fashioned…now I love it for its old fashioned-ness 🙂

  6. Kathleen says:

    That sounds like a good book. I was lot like Laura as a kid. As a 25 year old with a mom/grandma name (Kathleen) I don't feel you on the old fashioned names. I would have much rather had a trendy name like Lindsey, Lauren or Ashley or a classic name like Sarah, Katherine or Elizabeth.

  7. Sadako says:

    I like old fashioned names, too. Stuff like Esther or Agnes, or Agatha (whoa…all three of those were American Girl characters–Esther was Addie's sis, and Agnes and Agatha were Samantha Parkington's twin cousins). Florence is another one that I've ever seen on anyone my age but I like it. If I ever have kids, I'm going for a classic.

  8. Pingback: “Losers often grow up to be writers” | Quomodocumque

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