Welcome to 'Fine Lines', the Friday feature in which we give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wizened look at the children's and YA books we loved in our youth. This week, writer / reviewer / blogger Lizzie Skurnick reads Beverly Cleary's 1963 novel 'Sister of the Bride', in which Barbara McClane discovers she's more than just a member of the wedding.
She's overdoing it all the way, thought Barbara. No pretty dishes, no pastel linens, that practical suit. The whole thing, from Barbara's point of view, was beginning to sound just plain dreary. If this went on, she and Greg would probably spend their honeymoon picketing something.
"...but next semester I think I'll join the Dames." "And what are the Dames?" demanded Barbara, beginning to undress. "A club for wives of students," answered Rosemary. "What do they do?" Barbara was always curious about university life. "Oh—things like having someone talk on nutrition and how to get the most out of the food dollar," said Rosemary. At least this was on a higher plane than the Amys, who were inclined to exchange cooky recipes. It was evidence that the Dames used their minds. "And at the end of the semester there is a party," continued Rosemary with a mischievous smile. "That is when the girls who work while their husbands go to school are awarded their Ph.T. degree." Barbara had heard of a Ph.D. degree, but never of a Ph.T. This was a new one. "What does that stand for?" she asked, pulling on her nightgown. "Putting Hubby through," answered Rosemary, laughing. Barbara groaned. "They sound every bit as bad as the Amys. Worse, even." "Maybe," agreed Rosemary, "but they have fun." She thought a moment before she said, "And so do the Amys."
There was actually a variety of women in the room—the Amy who wore leather sandals and wove her own skirts, another who was active in the League of Women Voters, the mother whose calm was never disturbed by her six children, a mother who wanted to write but could not find time, an Amy whose rough hands and deep tan were the results of hours spent in her hillside garden.
She discovered she was tired of baking cookies for that—cooky hound. She was tired of trying to win him, and as for her daydreams about getting married someday, she found them so silly she was embarrassed even thinking about them. Imagine living in an apartment like Rosemary's with Bill Cunningham and washing his socks. Never, never, never!
Not everything about Rosemary's life was wrong. There was Greg. And marriage was not something out of the slick and colorful pages of a magazine. It was not just parties and new clothes and flowers and a wedding veil....It was a lot of other things, too, like love and trust and living within one's income and, in Rosemary and Greg's case, putting their educations ahead of their immediate comfort. Why, Rosemary was prepared to do all of this cheerfully, even gaily, and it had not even occurred to her that she was being brave or self-sacrificing. She was doing it because she loved Greg and had faith in his future. And for the first time the thought came to Barbara that Greg was lucky to be marrying her sister.
•The Cat Ate My Gymsuit: A Pocket Full Of Orange Pits