Young Adult Book Club – January 2010

Are we proud of Harriet for maintaining her identity as a nonconformist? Or are we frustrated by her difficulty relating to others in an emotional way? That was the debate over the January book club selection of Harriet the Spy.

We also discussed:

  • How the setting of New York added to the story.
  • The lack of adult coddling in Harriet’s world; parents (and nannies) ignore their children, can’t clean up after themselves, and have too much to drink on a regular basis. And yet it’s treated in a completely blasé manner. Perhaps this is why Harriet, Sport, and Janie are so cynical for eleven-year-olds.
  • The contrast between this book and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The former is an omnicient narrator with a distinctly analytical tone, which feels like reading a psychoanalytical case study. The latter is a first-person narrator with a subjective tone which feels like reading your best friend’s diary. The group conclusion is that Harriet has greater depth of plotline, while Margaret has greater depth of character.
  • The school dynamics of sixth grade.
  • Harriet as a role model.

Any other points to add?

Our next meeting of the Young Adult Book Club (for adult readers) will take place Tuesday, February 23 at 6:30 p.m.. Our February pick is Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten. Nina’s sister Ellie has spent the past two years waiting for her sister to come home. When Ellie suddenly finds a clue that might lead to Nina’s whereabouts, she decides to find her, no matter what it takes. Accompanied by her new cute, mysterious friend, Ellie embarks on a madcap road trip in search of more clues. Will she find Nina? Pick up a copy and find out for yourself. E-mail us at or call us at 703-548-4092.

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