Goodreads: Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Series: Betsy-Tacy #2
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are best friends and they never quarrel. They do, however, have a lot of fun whether that means inventing new recipes, giving each other haircuts, or learning how to fly.
I was unenchanted by Betsy-Tacy, but felt obliged to continue with the series in hopes of discovering why generations of readers have loved these books. They possess, I admit, the sorts of elements that normally I would find delightful–childhood friendships, secret clubs, disagreements with annoying older siblings, and good intentions gone awry. Everything you could imagine wanting in a book about childhood set in the past is here. And that, perhaps, is part of the problem.
I have seen these plot elements before. Betsy tells stories like L. M. Montgomery’s Story Girl, except her stories are not quite as good. The girls try to learn how to fly, jumping off things rather in the manner of Anne Shirley. But while Anne always experiences the consequences for her imagination, Betsy & Co. typically get off free. Bad haircuts, pledges to be good made in religious fervor, going begging at the neighbors–if L. M. Montgomery has not done it better someone else has. Kate Douglas Wiggin comes to mind.
The problem really seems to be so little is connected in the lives of these girls and that nothing bad ever seems to happen. If girls are going to be jumping out of trees willy-nilly, I expect someone to get hurt or for them to get into trouble. If they are going to chop their hair off haphazardly, I expect their parents to do more than laugh and get out the scissors. If they are going to beg for food, I expect the neighbors to mention it. Instead, the girls seem to do whatever they want and none of it matters.
I find it difficult to get invested in a story where the girls live perfect lives. No misunderstandings, no quarrels, no worries about what their peers will think, no run-ins with the neighbors. Everyone in their town is so perfectly enchanting and polite and understanding that it simply boggles the mind. I sometimes wish someone would at least poke their head out of a house and rudely inquire what those young whippersnappers think they’re doing yelling at the top of their lungs and making the babies cry.
Some people, I know, enjoy these stories as a “slice of life”, but I simply do not much care whether the girls take a walk or babysit their siblings today. I might as well narrate my life as I go about it. Still, I suppose it’s possible the series gets better as it goes on.