Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly

“In the brightness of the morning last night didn’t seem quite real–as if it had been a movie which I had sat and watched but of which I had not really been a part. It could hardly have been me who felt almost beautiful just because wind was fingering through my hair and the moon was thin like a piece of sheer yellow silk. I knew in a little while I would be getting up and putting on blue denim slacks and eating cereal at the table beside the kitchen window and dusting window sills and talking to my mother about garden flowers and what to have for dinner just as I had for so many summers. There would be no more of the exquisite uncertainty of last night, no queer, tingling awe at the newness of the feeling, and no strange, filling satisfaction out of just being alive. All that was last night because it was night and because it was the first boy I had really been out with. Not because it was a special boy–a boy different from other boys–but just because it was the first one. After a while, maybe after years when I had had so many dates that most of them were hazy, I would think of last night and remember it and that breathless loveliness, the same way and with the same amused pleasure that I think now about how I used to wait for the first look at the tree on Christmas morning or about the sweet pink froth of cotton candy at carnivals. Maybe, I thought to myself, if I were to see Jack this morning in the bright sunlight his eyebrows might be scraggly or his face might be pale and silly.”
You can laugh when you see the title of this post and its accompanying picture. You can say, “But, Bellezza! You’re not seventeen! And I’ve known your blog to focus more on literary fiction than Romance. Or, Young Adult.” But you’d only be saying that if you haven’t read this book. Or, if you don’t have a small selection of titles which you love to pull out every five summers or so.
The first time I read this book I was in eighth grade. It struck my heart in such a way that I have tucked it away in my mind as one of those “forever” books; a book that you know you will always love even as you grow up. Change. Leave the spot you were emotionally when you first encountered it.
Do you have a few books that you love so much you’ll never give them away? Do you have a few books that you pull out specifically for summer? (Another favorite summer read of mine is Anne Rivers Siddons’ book, Colony.) Share the titles if you do. And, if you haven’t read this one, really, you should.
by Maureen Daly
first published in 1942
~a Booklist 25 Books That Span the Decades Selection