Julia's crowd, after calling out greetings, paid little attention to them. As for Tony and Betsy they forgot that the others were there. They did not speak to each other; they were too intent upon their dancing. Betsy danced on the tips of her toes. Standing so, she was just about Tony's height, and they moved like one person.
"I believe I like dancing better than anything else in the world," Betsy thought.
The music stopped, but to Betsy's amazement Tony's arms didn't fall away. Instead they tightened, and she felt a kiss on her cheek. She looked, confused, into Tony's laughing eyes.
"Wasn't it smart of me to stop under the mistletoe?" he asked.
They were in the doorway between music room and parlor, and there was indeed a mischievous white-berried spray hanging above them. Blushing, Betsy pulled herself away. (from Heaven to Betsy, page 210)
I hope you're not all sick of Betsy-Tacy week here at Diary of an Eccentric; I didn't plan it that way, but I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. As you can see, our little Betsy has become a young woman. In Heaven to Betsy, the fifth book in the Betsy-Tacy series, originally published in 1945, Betsy Ray is 14 years old and starting her freshman year at Deep Valley High. As if the changes that come with starting high school weren't enough, Betsy's parents uproot the family from Hill Street to High Street. Granted, the family still lives in Deep Valley, Minnesota, but Betsy has grown to love living across the street from her best friend, Tacy Kelly, and while the new house has gas lighting and heating (big advances at the turn of the century) and each of the Ray girls has her own bedroom, Betsy isn't ready to leave her life on Hill Street behind.
But that's soon forgotten when she and Tacy start school. In Heaven to Betsy, Maud Hart Lovelace introduces several new characters -- Betsy's new girlfriends Carney and Bonnie and several boys who befriend Betsy, walk her to and from school and parties, and hang around the Ray house for food and entertainment. There's Cab, her neighbor; Herbert, a local boy all the girls think is cute; and Tony, a newcomer whom Betsy nicknames "the Tall Dark Stranger." Tony is Betsy's first real crush, and it takes her on an emotional roller coaster ride. And we can't forget Joe, the boy she met in a store during a summer trip who ends up being Betsy's academic competitor.
Betsy makes the transition from childhood to young adulthood fairly seamlessly, making friends left and right and having a grand time. Heaven to Betsy didn't stir up any fond memories of my high school experience (that's a period of my life I'd rather not revisit), but the emotions Betsy experiences with her first crush are universal. I remember being nervous around boys I liked, and when things didn't go like I'd hoped, I remember not wanting to get out of bed. Like Betsy, I'm sure every girl has wished she looked like someone else.
This book has a more grown up feel to it than the previous Betsy Tacy books. The illustrations by Vera Neville portray a more mature Betsy, and Lovelace also touches upon more serious subjects like religion (Betsy and her sister Julia feel at home in one church, which is not the church their parents attend) and Betsy and Tacy's desire to do more than just become wives and mothers. As much as I'm loving the Betsy-Tacy books, I wonder what it would have been like to read them as a child and to have grown up right along with Betsy. I'm sure I would have found comfort in these books and a friend in Betsy.
Read my other Betsy-Tacy reviews:
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
To learn more about Maud Hart Lovelace, visit the Betsy-Tacy Society.
There are Betsy-Tacy reissue celebrations planned for certain cities. Here are the remaining dates:
10/23/09 Bainbridge Island, WA, at the Kitsap Regional Library
11/07/09 Highland Village, TX, at Barnes & Noble
11/08/09 St. Paul, MN, at the Red Balloon Bookshop
04/17/10 Dallas, TX, at Dallas Heritage Village
To check out the rest of the Betsy-Tacy blog tour dates, click here. And check back here in the near future for reviews of the final five books in the Betsy-Tacy series.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Heaven to Betsy from HarperCollins for review purposes.