By First Mate Keira
Title: Education of Bet
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Page Count: 186
Grade Reading Level: Grade 7+
Summary: Elizabeth (Bet) Smith desires to be schooled. She’s wants more than anything to attend lessons and to learn things. She doesn’t understand why Will Gardener, the nephew of the man who houses her, takes it for granted. Doesn’t he understand just how boring being a girl is and how much freedom he has as a boy? Will Gardener doesn’t equate school with freedom. He wants to join the military and go to war fighting for his country but as his uncle’s only heir he’ll never be allowed to do so. The two come up with a daring plan to get what they both want… Bet is going to take his place!
- Bet’s daring and risky plan of impersonating a boy at an all boy’s boarding school might sound a little farfetched, especially when one remembers Amanda Bynes’s She’s the Man where Amanda could not possibly pull off looking like a guy, but it is no the case in Education of Bet. Elizabeth has a natural ability with voices, acting when she reads out loud to Paul Gardener, Will’s uncle. This handy talent coupled with a crash course in real acting and learning to be a boy gets her far. The only person who seems to see through her is Mrs. Smithers, the head housekeeper at Betterman Academy.
- James Tyler, Bet’s roommate at Betterman Academy is not like the other boys at school. Here the story reads a bit like Yentl (Barbra Streisand). James clearly likes “Will Gardener” uncomfortably so for a straight boy. Imagine his delight when Will is revealed as Bet. The two strike up a romance alienating the other boys as they retreat time and again to their shared room to make out. James is an honorable boy and he never lets anything get too far. It’s very sweet.
- One word: Bullies. I can’t imagine why their main victim would want to help them bully others. I suppose the psychology here is that the victim wants to be in the “in-crowd” and avoid getting bullied in the future. It’s definitely the wrong way to do that. Bullies only stop when you stand up to them and refuse to give them what they want. Getting adult help is best, but that option wasn’t even allowed due to the irresponsible Headmaster who thought it was all tattle-telling and snitching of the worst sort.
Rating: 4 Treasure Chests
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