Age of Main Character: 16
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (July 12, 2010)
Buy the book: Amazon
Bet feels confined by her place—neither family nor servant—in the home of her wealthy benefactor. Will, the boy who’s been like a brother to her since they were four, is unhappy with his fate as well. So Bet makes a plan: She’ll pretend she’s a boy and take Will’s place at school.I LOVED THIS BOOK!! I'm writing this first because I'm afraid that if you're anything like me, you may look at the cover and think this book isn't for you. Period books are not the books that I would normally be drawn to (as you can probably tell from the books I've read and loved previously), but when Lauren Baratz-Logsted contacted me about reading this book, I thought it sounded interesting, so I said I would read it. I'm SO glad that I did!!
When she arrives at school, Bet finds boys act rather brutish when they don’t think there’s a girl in their midst. But brutish Bet can handle it. It’s the stirrings of attraction for her roommate that get Bet into real trouble.
About the book:
Elizabeth Smith and Will Gardener have lived like brother and sister since the deaths of their parents when they were just children. Elizabeth's (Bet's) mother was just a servant in the Gardener house, but after the unfortunate deaths, Will's wealthy uncle took them both into his care and raised them almost like his own children. Even though Bet was always treated well by Will's uncle, she aways felt stuck somewhere between family and servant. There was nothing she desired more than to be able to go to school and get a proper education like Will, but she was a girl, and girls weren't allowed to go to school. And Will wasn't any happier. He was thrown out of school after school for bad behavior, when all he really wanted was to join the military, but that would break his Uncle's heart.
So Bet comes up with a plan to fulfill both of their dreams. She will enroll at the Betterman Academy as Will Gardener, and he will secretly join the military and fight in the war. Even though he is reluctaant at first, Will can't resist the draw of his dream and he tries to teach Bet all she needs to know in order to pull off the performance. But when Bet gets to school, she soon finds out that there's much more to being a boy than she ever imagined. She is bullied, teased, and picked on, and any attempt to stand up for herself is thwarted. The only one who treats her well is her roommate, the intelligent and very gorgeous, James Tyler. Getting close to James, however, is starting to present a whole new set of problems!
After reading this, I want to say things like, "This book is utterly charming!" or "The Education of Bet is perfectly lovely!" I enjoyed every moment of this book! I guess it follows a pretty predictable line, but I don't care, it was just so enchanting. Throughout the book, I kept thinking of things like "Emma" or "Shakesphere in Love" but even those who can't make it through the dredgery of an Austen novel will appreciate this book. Don't get me wrong, I love Jane Austen, but the language in her novels is difficult to navigate sometimes. I never felt that way with The Education of Bet.
Bet was an amazingly strong and determined girl, though very naive to the ways of the world. She doesn't take no for an answer and will do almost anything to achieve her dreams. She stands up for herself and her friends, even if it means losing everthing she has always wanted.
Will is humorous and caring, but at times self-centered. He's been spoiled his whole life, but he cares deeply for his uncle and for Bet, and truely desires their happiness.
James is admirable and kind, and not to mention gorgeous! He treats Bet (as Will) like a true friend, and cares deeply for their friendship. I love James! I love the way he doesn't follow the crowd, and he stands up for his friends. James is a perfect gentleman!
I really hope that you will pick up this book and read it! I highly, highly recommend it! It was utterly charming and perfectly lovely! :)
- Sexual Content: Mild
- Profanity: Minor
- Violence: Moderate
- Other Notables: Some underage drinking