My daughter Lucy is 15 and between her many part-time summer jobs, she is doing a lot of reading.
Some of the books were given to her by teachers as graduation gifts and some are required for her 10th grade curriculum. So far she has read Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. She is currently reading The Catcher in the Rye. Next up: The Crucible and Things Fall Apart.
I read almost all of these titles when I myself was 15. However Lucy and I have such different reading tastes (she loves fantasy; I love history) that I have tried to be careful not to share my opinions with her before she finished each one.
But finally… “How is Gone with the Wind?” I asked timidly, when she was halfway through the novel.
“Wow. Rhett — ” she began.
I smiled to myself. At her age I had absolutely adored Rhett Butler.
“What a jerk!” said my mild-mannered, kindly girl.
Jerk? Rhett? What?!
In the first place, she said, he was a blockade runner — a despicable war profiteer — “and then he left her on the road to Tara!”
I got the impression Lucy would have slapped Rhett harder than Scarlett did. She did end up fond of him by the end of the book, but when I told her of my adoration, her glance was slightly pitying.
I felt a little better when she told me that she was having a tough time enduring Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.
“He is so whiny and he curses all the time!”
I too had not liked Holden Caulfield or Catcher, but I’d never pinpointed exactly why.
“I just want to ask him,” she went on, “can’t you ever be positive?”
Lucy obviously doesn’t put up with a lot of guff in her fictional heroes.
I hardly dared to ask her what she thought of the moody Mr. Darcy.