Maureen Daly May Lamberton Becker - Essay

May Lamberton Becker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"Going to high school these days has developed into a profession," says Maureen Daly in ["Smarter and Smoother"] the best book, all things considered, on our high-school manners and ethics and their relation to those of later life, among many lately offered to the teens. One special advantage is the author's time of life; just old enough to look back on the teens, she has, as a novelist, already developed mature sympathy that lets her see them unclouded by the scorn the twenties often feel. Another is the confidence she has already inspired in high-school readers…. Above all, she has the advantage of knowing and speaking for small town high schools and the social scheme of the small town that is in its own way America….

Written directly to high-school students, its language is so utterly their own that in five years the book will need a glossary. Its advice, especially on boy-and-girl matters, is for this reason more likely to be heard, and hearts wounded at sixteen need advice just as much as if they were not likely to need it again, reasonably soon, for another non-lethal wound. And as the high-school world changes every four years, it would be a good idea for older people who have to do with the teens to brush up on their experience and find out what that world is at this time of writing.

May Lamberton Becker, "Books for Young People: 'Smarter and Smoother'," in New York Herald Tribune Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), Vol. 20, No. 34, April 16, 1944, p. 5.