Booth Tarkington’s Seventeen is a frivolous, funny, and forgettable tale about awkward 17-year-old’s first romance.
Gawky William Sylvanus Baxter, called Willie by his family and “Silly Billy” by his friends, is smitten with the charms of blue-eyed Miss Pratt, who is visiting the Parchers for the summer.
Seventeen by Booth Tarkington
Arthur William Brown, Illus. Grosset & Dunlap, 1915. 1916 bestseller #1. My grade: C.
Willie and his pals compete for Miss Pratt’s attentions, congregating on the porch off Mr. Parcher’s study.
Miss Pratt’s blue eyes are about the only thing in her head. She converses in baby talk through the medium of her lap dog, Flopit,.
Miss Pratt’s baby talk and her serenading suitors offend Mr. Parcher’s ears.
Willie’s younger sister, Jane, accidentally overhears Mr. Parcher telling his wife to rid of the girl and her satellites, especially Willie.
Jane promptly brings the story home to her mother.
Seventeen’s turn of the century setting has a certain charm, but it can’t conceal the triviality of the plot or the shallowness of the characters.
One summer is too short for a teen as dense as Willie to learn anything from his experience.
Willie doesn’t grow up a bit in this novel, and readers are the poorer because of it.
© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni