Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Was A Girl Detective

In my youth, I devoured every Nancy Drew mystery novel I could lay my hands on. Because my reading actually caught up with the publication of the series, I also tore my way through The Bobbsey Twins and The Hardy Boys. What was a girl to do when my favorite girl detective couldn't keep up?

I was thrilled to discover that my love of Nancy Drew is shared with Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor, as well as Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. It may be the only thing that I have in common with any of them -- other than the obvious. It may also be the only thing that they all have in common.

What is it about Nancy Drew that is so incredibly appealing ? When Barack Obama mentioned Sotomayor's love of Nancy Drew as a way of introducing her to the American public, it caused a number of essays to be published on the subject. It was through the essay in the New York Times that I was directed to Sandra Tsing Loh's review of Girl Sleuth, a biography of the committee of women who created Nancy Drew.

"For clever girls of all ages," Sandra Tsing Loh wrote in The Atlantic, "it’s a rare treat to read stories in which our heroine’s emotions come alive not with the love of a good man but with the pursuit of a bad one."

The Double X website (created for and about women of a certain age, ahem, who frequently surf the Internet) also weighs in on the Sotomayor-Drew connection. It's all intriguing reading if you're so inclined.

I think the bottom line is that when you're a thirteen year-old girl and you don't look sing like Miley Cyrus, or look like Britney Spears, who would your hero be? A really smart girl who knows how to put her good sense to use, like Nancy Drew, of course. When I was thirteen, I was fascinated with Madame Curie -- the chick who discovered radium and polonium...and then it killed her. I think that should give you some very thoughtful insights into my crazy brain. I'm still not sure what my passion is...but I am sure it's going to kill me.

In the meantime, I've been reading a lot of Elinor Lipman. An author I heartily recommend.

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