The Education of Bet
Young Adult Historical Fiction
Houghton Mifflin, 2010
Summary from the publisher:
Denied an education because of both her gender and background, sixteen year-old Elizabeth cuts her hair and alters suits belonging to Will, her wealthy patron's grandnephew, to take his place at school while Will pursues a military career in nineteenth-century England.
I quoted the above passage because that is the best summary of the book I've seen. The plot is simple, and the story itself is refreshingly clean compared to the majority of YA fiction being published today.
The scenes in the beginning when Will is teaching Bet how to behave like a boy were by far my favorite, chock-full of LOL moments. For example:
"Those... hips of yours. They swish back and forth. It is fine for a girl but--"
"Not for a boy. Very well." I gave him a firm nod of my head. "Show me, then."
"Well, it's like this." Will demonstrated as we stood on the lawn. "You must walk--no, you must stride as though you have some great purpose in mind."
"You look ridiculous," I said, watching him walk back and forth. "You look like you're off to execute somebody.""Exactly. That's what I mean about purpose."
Overall I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't without its faults. Namely, the events are entirely predictable. However it is still a fun read. Bet doesn't plan her scheme as well as she'd thought (I'm not sure it's believable that she wouldn't have remembered that she bleeds once a month... that would have been the first thing to cross my mind), and she certainly didn't count on falling in love with her roommate who thinks she's a boy. The way Bet handles these things, though, made me love her character. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for young girls who aren't interested in paranormal elements, explicit sex, profane language, extreme violence, etc.