Grace Harlowe's Freshman Year at High School, or The Merry Doings of the Oakdale Freshmen Girls, by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M., proved to be an enjoyable read. While Grace Harlowe is the headliner of the book, as the introduction explains, the story is not just about her. The story also highlights Grace's friends - Jessica Bright, Nora O'Malley, and Anne Pierson, with a good portion of the tale focusing on Anne and her desire to fit in at the school and win the freshman prize at the end of the year with a perfect score on her examinations. The story also features a nemesis, of sorts, in the form of Miriam Nesbit, who reminds me a lot of Lettie Briggs from the Dana Girls mystery stories. While there is no overarching mystery for the girls to solve in the books, there are a couple of minor mysteries that they solve along the way - such as who stole the answers to the final examination papers, and who sent Anne the frightening marionette in the image of her father. There is no real difficulty in solving the mysteries, but it does provide the girls with some more adventures (as if trying to escape from ravenous wolves in the forest, helping Anne escape her father who is trying to kidnap her, fending off a thieving guest, and dealing with pranks from the sophomore class were not enough!). And then there is the secret letter that Anne is hiding as the story reaches its end, a secret that could place Anne under suspicion for stealing the examination answers!
Now, remembering that this is a period piece, I did find a couple of passages somewhat humorous when read in the context of today's language. One of them is the description of Mrs. Gray's nephew when he first appears at her house, on page 138:
He was tall and slender, very dapper and rather ladylike in his bearing His alert, dark eyes were set too close together, and his face had a narrow, sinister look that made them all feel uncomfortable ... "Asinine dandy!" hissed Hippy. "I knew he'd be a Miss Nancy," exclaimed Reddy ... "What do you like, then?" demanded Nora ... "I live afternoon tea," he answered, "and bridge."
Then there is the observation that David Nesbit makes on page 100 - purely innocent in nature, but read with today's language, society, and thought processes in mind, it takes on an entirely different meaning:
"If the Dunsmore boys are in good trim, I'm afraid they'll give us a stiff pull," observed David, "but the stiffer the pull the more interesting it is to watch, so long as they don't like us."Now, in the story, David is talking about the important football game coming up between Oakdale and its big rival, Dunsmore; however, simply reading the statement in today's world, it comes across with a blunt overtone of sexual innuendo (which I doubt the author, back in 1910, intended). Then again, perhaps it is just my dirty mind placing innuendo where there is none!
Nevertheless, the book was fun to read, and I look forward to reading what happens to these girls in their sophomore year in the next book (which is advertised to come out in the Spring of 2018 along with a Girl Aviators books, which I hope is true).
RATING: 9 crashing fir trees with ornaments and candles out of 10 for preserving the childhood joys of yesteryear for today's generation to read and love!