Growing Up with Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew

I forget how old I was the day my mother found an old box of her childhood books and introduced me to The Secret of the Old Clock, but that was the day my love for Nancy Drew began.  I read most of the original yellow hardcover versions and would go on to sample the other, more modern Nancy Drews.  (Unfortunately, I never did like those hundreds of paperbacks showing Nancy in fearful poses with brooding men watching her from the background.  Nancy has a boyfriend–why does she flirt with some dangerous bad boy every time she finds a mystery?)  I scoured yard sales for Nancy, found a few related books like the Dana Girls to try, and rejoiced when a Nancy Drew movie was announced.  (It was terrible, but I maintain we all deserve a period Nancy Drew mini series.)

Even now I love Nancy Drew and I find myself intrigued by the graphic novels on the library shelves and eagerly anticipating the newest Nancy Drew PC game from Her Interactive.  Nancy began in the 1930s and has seen many changes over the years, transitioning from a blonde to a “titian-haired” girl, modelling different styles through the decades, upgrading to a hybrid car and a cell phone, and even going back in time to be a child detective in the Clue Crew series.  But, throughout it all, Nancy has represented the modern, independent woman.  Smart, resourceful, and kind, Nancy has it all–and makes readers believe they can, too.

I realized even as a child that Nancy was a little too perfect, even a Mary Sue.  She’s rich, stylish, and beautiful.  She has a car and a steady boyfriend while her stereotyped friends Bess and George do not.  She’s always kind and polite, and knows just what to say and how to act, no matter the social situation.  As the series progresses, she gains more and more, suddenly revealing that she’s had a secret talent for drawing and even becoming a caring pet owner.  Still, I admired Nancy not for what she has but for what she does.

Nancy represents the best of humanity as she helps others without expectation of anything in return.  She ventures boldly into danger and often finds herself locked up, kidnapped, or drugged in the pursuit of the truth.  She puts others before herself and outwits older, stronger men not only because she’s smart but also because she perseveres; Nancy Drew does not allow herself to be intimidated.  At eighteen, Nancy is already a savvy, independent career woman who has dedicated herself to others.  She’s a role model for us all.

I do not appreciate all of the more recent interpretations of Nancy, from her ditzy incarnation in the graphic novels to her flirtatious incarnation in those peeling paperbacks that stuffed the racks at my library.  But Nancy is good at evolving.   Her very first adventures contained racist stereotypes and other problematic and even insulting depictions of characters, but, fortunately, the writers attempted to correct these issues when they re-released the books.  Nancy is always changing, always growing–and her admirers can change and grow along with her, hopefully becoming strong, independent, and caring individuals themselves.

Krysta 64

27 thoughts on “Growing Up with Nancy Drew

  1. Jorelene @ Page Chronicles says:

    I’m actually a bit ashamed to admit that I haven’t read any Nancy Drew books… I was just never really exposed to them in my childhood. You have some really great inputs about her character – it makes me want to pick up some of those books now! Great post 🙂 ❤


  2. rantandraveaboutbooks says:

    I love the old Nancy Drew books! I love this post! That was my thing when I was younger was to read these with my mom. My grandmother read them to my mom when she was little, which made it so awesome when my mom started reading them to me. Nancy Drew was the reason I started reading and why I never stopped.


  3. Penni says:

    I never read Nancy Drew. I don’t know why really, just never picked up one to read. I am sure if I did, though, that I would have been hooked. Great post.


    • Krysta says:

      The books didn’t age so well for me; I read one awhile ago and it was really predictable and cliche. But I loved them when I was younger!


    • Krysta says:

      I usually end up resorting to a walk-through. Some of the games are ridiculous, I think, considering the age range. Like some puzzles seem not to have logical solutions and I’m just supposed to play guess-and-check with 30 pieces?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kayla says:

        That’s why I want to try again because now I’m old enough to know when enough is enough and to just look it up online, haha! Exactly, they can be so time consuming!


        • Krysta says:

          Yeah, I’ll try to solve a puzzle, but if it’s taking too much time, I’m not going to spend a week playing guess-and-check. I don’t know how other people do it!

          This is making me want to play more Nancy Drew. I have the White Wolf one waiting for me, but I am hoping they release the new Salem one soon!


  4. theunbookreporter says:

    I loved Nancy since I was a kid too. As for her being a Mary Sue…so what? So’s Batman and I love him. I think the more important question isn’t whether a character is a Mary Sue, but whether she’s well-written – or acted. And I look forward to the Her Interactive Nancy Drew games too – I play them with my mom. Nancy is boss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I think in the end I was mostly upset she was a Mary Sue because her friends got a bad deal. They didn’t have steady boyfriends, or a car, or a rich father, or anything the books suggest that a person should want. Probably they were happy dating various people and not having to pay for gas, though. ;b

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jubilare says:

    I had the yellow hardbacks, too. 😉
    I can forgive Nancy for being a Sue in that she exists as wish-fulfillment fiction at a time when kids are doing that sort of thing in their own heads, anyway.


    • Krysta says:

      I just wanted her friends to have nice things, too! Why does only Nancy get a car? Why is Nancy so rich she can work free? I felt sorry for Bess and George, though I realize now they were totally fine. ;b

      Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        Lol! I honestly don’t remember that much detail anymore, but I probably felt the same. I always did feel for characters that got the short end of the stick.


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