Nancy Drew is my hero. I was nine when we were first introduced thanks to my mom. Reading and I didn’t get along and my mom was trying desperately to get me hooked on books. I loved stories, still do, and fondly remember sitting on my bed with a glass of milk listening to my dad read the Berenstain Bears’ B Book, or my mom terrifying me with the poem “The Skippery Boo.” She’d pretend to be the Skippery Boo coming to get me and I would scream in terrified delight.
My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Novik, would let me sit at my desk and write my own stories as much as I wanted…even during math so long as I kept up and did the work at home...which was easier said than done, especially when fractions were involved. I didn't like them. They were the math version of Brussels sprouts, sour. Anyway, interest in reading wasn’t the issue. The actual act of reading was pure torture, and it would be a few years before the reason why would come to light. In the meantime, my mom searched high and low for something I could manage to read and that would take me to another place, to help me forget about my troubles.
The Secret of Old Clock and all its sequels was just what the detective ordered. Nancy Drew was so cool and got to do the most awesome stuff. She had her own car, for one thing. She had a boyfriend and two best friends who always stuck by her. She was good looking, but not so much as to be intimidating. In short, she was someone I wanted to be friends with. And, she solved mysteries. It sounded so exciting. She experienced the most incredible adventures. I wanted to do what she did and I figured she had much to teach me. I was right…she dared me to dream.
Like all good friends, Nancy eventually introduced me to others. Trixie Belden, another ingenious sleuth, and I hit it off immediately. Agatha Christie, cool under fire, proved a great instructor of deductive reasoning, a key ingredient to solving any question. Anne Shirley, whose independence, spirit, fearlessness, loyalty, and ability to remain true to her self is still inspiring. I loved her Green Gables as much as she did and hoped that one day I might live in a place as magical as she.
And last but not least, Elizabeth Bennet, a fiery romantic and solver of the mysteries of the heart if ever there was one. The six of us cried together, were frightened together when foundations and beliefs were threatened, and laughed and cheered at triumphs. They were then, and continue to be, my best friends.
Somehow, though, Nancy, Agatha, Trixie, Anne, and Elizabeth managed to make me feel better. They made mistakes but lived to tell about it. Elizabeth Bennet was convinced Mr. Darcy was beneath her, yet was willing to admit her mistake when the truth was revealed. Nancy, Agatha, and Trixie followed dead end after dead end before finding the answer to a puzzle. Their perseverance was to be admired and emulated. And Anne, well, trouble always seemed to find her. Yet she was able to win people over with her warm heart and good intentions.
No matter how tough some things may have been growing up, if those five women could overcome their setbacks so could I. No way was I going to let an obstacle get in the way of my dream. I wanted to be a super sleuth, and my dream came true. I’m a librarian, finding answers to stubborn questions and conquering dead ends in a single bound. So, here’s to you Nancy Drew. Thank you.
The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
Published by Grosset & Dunlap, 1959