Maureen Daly Richard S. Alm - Essay

Richard S. Alm

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Undoubtedly, the most widely talked about and most praised of all contemporary novels for the adolescent is Maureen Daly's Seventeenth Summer….

Novelists themselves have recognized the significance of Seventeenth Summer. Rette, the heroine of [Betty] Cavanna's A Girl Can Dream, senses what is great about the Daly novel when she reads it in preparation for a writing task of her own. (p. 156)

This sense of immediacy which Rette feels in reading Seventeenth Summer is the result of Daly's telling the story from Angie's point of view and capturing the excitement of a young girl bursting with happiness (sic) she wants to share with intimate friends. The story is a simple one of commonplace events, day-by-day life in a small Wisconsin town; yet it is an engrossing story because the reader is able to identify himself so closely with the reactions of the heroine. What might be sensational—Lorraine's affair with Martin—is played down, and the reader's attention is drawn, not to Lorraine's affair, but to Angie's reactions toward her sister. Angie's is a superb characterization. She is introduced as a rather naive seventeen-year-old, but during one summer she learns a great deal about boys, about her own emotions, and about growing up to face new problems and decisions. That the story does not end in a Hollywood manner with Jack and Angie walking off into the sunset together is a credit to Maureen Daly who does not compromise a characterization in order to make all her readers happy. (p. 157)

Richard S. Alm, "The Glitter and the Gold," in English Journal (copyright © 1955 by the National Council of Teachers of English; reprinted by permission of the publisher and the author), Vol. XLIV, No. 6, September, 1955 (and reprinted in Readings about Adolescent Literature, edited by Dennis Thomison, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1970, pp. 150-61).∗