Thursday, November 28, 2019


My vote for the most deliciously transgressive moment in the entire YA canon:
Her eyes sparkled with the joy of youth and it was easy for her to smile. She was an only child, the daughter of Anthony Parker, editor and publisher of the Riverview Star, and her mother had died when she was very young.
She is Penny Parker created by Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson. The sentences don't quite say that it's easy for her to smile because her mother had died when she was very young but they walk right up to the edge of the thought and urge you to finish it for yourself. Killing off parents is an old practice in YA literature. Even when they are not outright killed, they are usually gotten offstage as quickly as possible. Benson, however, killed off mothers with a vengeance. She created four YA series—Nancy Drew, Penny Parker, Madge Sterling and Ruth Darrow—and in each and every one of them the Heroines mother is dead. To lose one mother might be regarded as misfortune, to lose four begins to look deliberate.

Let the gratitude begin.