“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,

grimly, ruthlessly.

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

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