Betsy in Spite of Herself, by Maud Hart Lovelace
“I’m sad that more girls don’t read the Betsy-Tacy books, a saga of three friends growing up at the turn of the 20th century in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The series begins in childhood and concludes with Betsy’s wedding. This volume in particular really blew my hair back. In it, Betsy, a high school sophomore, falls into the traditional female pit of thinking her authentic self isn’t good enough, but she manages to haul herself out of it. Like most girls, I believed I was the only one tempted to dumb herself down and sell herself short. Reading about a smart young woman doing the same helped me avoid that temptation. And for me the books were particularly powerful because the assumption throughout is that Betsy will become a writer, which is exactly what happens.”
Recommended by Anna Quindlen, the author of five novels and eight nonfiction books, including, most recently, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake ($26, amazon.com).
To buy: $15, amazon.com.