We’re reading our way across America…one romance at a time.
Wisconsin: Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
There aren’t a lot of books out there that have literally changed the world. Best-sellers—even massive best-sellers—come and go. True game-changers? Not so common. But in 1942, Maureen Daly, barely out of her teens, wrote a novel that did exactly that with her timeless tale of first love, Seventeenth Summer.
Not a lot of people read this ground-breaking book today, but many scholars and historians remember Seventeenth Summer as the very first-ever Young Adult novel. There were children’s books aplenty, of course, but very little fiction that was written specifically for teenagers and dealt directly with their rich interior lives. Seventeenth Summer changed that, and suddenly tales for and about teens exploded onto the scene. Daly’s immediate spiritual heirs include Janet Lambert, Rosamund du Jardin, and Lenore Mattingly Weber—and if you have never read any of their work, it’s pretty likely that your mother did. It’s hard to overstate her importance.
But—seventy-plus years out—how does the book hold up?