I still haven’t moved on from my first love.
The preteen affair began in my grandparents’ basement. That’s where I discovered a bookcase filled with old-school Nancy Drew mystery novels.
The yellow-bound books took me on clue-filled journeys that were complicated, but not too perplexing to require more than a long afternoon of reading.
Last week, Nancy Drew celebrated her 80th anniversary.
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While reflecting on the occasion, I realized I’ve read just a handful of other mysteries since Nancy and I first met.
Of course, this is partially an allegiance issue. You can’t abandon the first detective who stole your literary heart, especially when you share a female bond.
But there’s also something about the adult mystery genre that’s a bit daunting.
It’s hard to find a title that doesn’t require an unfaltering attention span or in-depth scientific knowledge.
Make no mistake: The Nancy Drew novels aren’t flawless.
Peruse the early books now and they’ll likely appear culturally antiquated.
Nancy enjoys a place in the spotlight, but her two female sidekicks — George and Bess — are frequently stuck with flat character portrayals.
And while Nancy made for a strong female lead, the books hardly preach a lesson of unequivocal female empowerment.
Charming Ned Nickerson — Nancy’s significant other — is often on hand to offer assistance.
Yet the female detective’s popularity hasn’t waned. Every few years, we see a major resurgence, like what happened when Emma Roberts starred as Nancy Drew in a 2007 film version.
Even the absence of mainstream movie releases, Nancy addicts can easily find year-round support.
Online fan communities include the Nancy Drew Sleuths, a website where users can learn about conventions, find discussion groups and shop for everything from tote bags to T-shirts.
(My favorite? Nancy Drew boxer shorts displaying the heroine’s face and an exclamation: “Dastardly!”)
I rarely scan the Internet for Nancy Drew updates, but hearing the sleuth’s name brings me only happy memories.
I grew up with Nancy. I regarded her not a feminist icon, but simply as validation that I, too, would one day resolve life’s mysteries.
Her dedicated obsession with clues made me, well, a little less clueless.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8516.