“Life isn’t like those books you read”
my mother is saying,
she is standing in the doorway to my bedroom;
Her arms are folded together, Indian-style,
“You are going to find out,
Life isn’t like Nancy Drew’s” she repeats angrily.
I keep my eyes on the page of my book;
I refuse to make eye contact with my mother.
Nancy Drew is solving a mystery.
I want my life to be like Nancy Drew’s;
I want to live with my father and a housekeeper
who makes cinnamon toast and hot cocoa,
who doesn’t have a mother interfering in everything.
I don’t respond.
The words in my book are blurry from my tears that
fall onto the page.
My mother and I have had yet another argument and I escaped
to my room, to sit on my bed and read, hoping to forget.
I am thirteen years old. My mother is right.
Life isn’t like the one Nancy Drew leads; I learn that for myself,
but I never forget the words of my mother, spoken bitingly,
Many years later, I found myself wondering – did my mother ever
wish to be like Nancy Drew? Was she sharing her harsh reality with me?
Life hasn’t been like Nancy Drew’s but I still have some of her books and
occasionally enjoy reading them.
I never told my sons that life wasn’t like that of the Hardy Boys.
I don’t tell my granddaughter that life isn’t like Nancy Drew’s–or, for today’s
generation, that of Harry Potter’s.
Sandra Lee Smith
Originally posted July 10, 2009
Updated October 9, 2018