“I Won’t Grow Up”

Recognize the title? Peter Pan sings the song with his Lost Boys. While I could review that original novel (maybe I will someday), I want to share with you the bittersweet story of Peter Pan’s female counterpart, Lucinda Wyman. The book is Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer and tells the story of a girl you will fall in love with, a girl who discovers how to love life.

Roller_Skates_Ruth_Sawyer

Roller Skates was published in 1936, a Newbery Medalist in 1937, and is set in New York City in the 1890’s. Too old-fashioned, you think? Ah, but that’s what makes a classic. The story is timeless, for every human soul longs for friends and desires to be a good friend to others.

Like The Little Princess, Lucinda is the poor little rich girl. In her case, Mother and Father still live, but no one in her family pays attention to her other than to bemoan the fact that she isn’t a lady and will never be beautiful. With that kind of nurture, Lucinda has been labeled a “problem child” whose temper is constantly on the rampage. When her mother needs a year in Italy to regain her health, they send Lucinda to live with a trusted teacher at her school. And that wonderful lady understands children.

Lucinda has the freedom to explore the wonders of people. Her enthusiastic interest in everything around her, her desire to learn about the people she meets endears her to all of them: the hansom cab driver, the Italian immigrants who run a fruit stand, the Irish policeman on her block, guests at her parents’ hotel, the poor family who rents the apartment above her teacher’s, and many more.

Children playing in the street circa 1900

Children playing in the street circa 1900

As she experiences one adventure after another, Lucinda literally roller skates through New York. Her energy is contagious, and as the reader, I wished I had taken advantage of all those small precious moments when I was a child.

At the end of the story, Lucinda must return to her own home. Will she strive to continue to savor life’s little moments? Or will she allow herself to be molded into a young lady of high society? The author gives you a hint (I won’t tell you where in the story such hint occurs.). Let’s just say Ruth Sawyer wrote an autobiography of one slice of her life.

roller skates

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5 thoughts on ““I Won’t Grow Up”

  1. You have a way of reviewing books that makes me jump up and go buy them. I enjoyed The Little Princess story, so I’m looking forward to reading this one too.

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  2. I haven’t heard of this one but it sounds good! (And a lot better than Peter Pan – I tend to enjoy the various movie adaptations but thought he was a real brat in the book.)

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    • Peter Pan is definitely brattish, which is usually white washed in the movies. We streamed the “Once Upon a Time” series on Netflix and it portrayed him accurately… cute but despicable 🙂

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  3. Peter Pan is definitely more filled with swashbuckling action guaranteed to appeal to boys more often than girls. And I agree with you about his brattiness. In Roller Skates, Lucinda’s family considers her a brat, but the reader is inside Lucinda’s head, and she doesn’t want to be a problem. She tries to conform to her parents’ wishes, but some days it gets too frustrating.

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