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Seventeenth Summer is a novel written by Maureen Daly and published in 1942. Daly was born in Ireland but grew up in Wisconsin. Before writing Seventeenth Summer she wrote a short story entitled "Sixteen". Daly began writing the novel when she was 17. After graduation from high school Daly attended Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois. She wrote all of her life as well as her three sisters. Maureen Daly died in 2006.
Seventeenth Summer is a book about a 17-year-old girl named Angeline "Angie" Morrow. It takes place in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Angie gets asked out on her first date by the local high school's basketball star, Jack Duluth, 18. They fall in love but soon the summer will end, for Angie has to go to college in Chicago, and Jack is going back to his home in Oklahoma to help his uncle with the bakery business. Jack falls in love with Angie, but Angie never says that she loves him back, so the question is, does she? The novel ends with Angie leaving for college and the two have a heartfelt goodbye.
- Angeline "Angie" Morrow: Main character and narrator of the novel. She dates Jack and the book shows their young love. Her family is very proper and although she starts hanging out with a rougher crowd she remains proper and wholesome throughout the novel. While the book tells a lot about Jack's feelings for Angie, she rarely records herself expressing love to Jack. Is Angie leaving out details as a narrator or is she not the kind of girl that loves out loud?
- Jack Duluth: The star of the high school basketball team and Angie's boyfriend.
- Jane Rady: Jack's ex-girlfriend. A girl, who unlike Angie, knew how to act around boys. According to Angie "She knew how to dance with her head back so her hair fell long and smooth as silk thread." (Daly 37)
- Lorraine Morrow: Angie's sister who had been gone at her second year of college and is home for the summer. While she dates a lot in college she does not date very much when she comes back home.
- Margaret Morrow: Angie's sister. She is the most popular of all the sisters. She is in with all the right people.
- Art: Margaret's boyfriend.
- Fitz: Jack's best friend and right-hand man.
- Martin: A guy that dates Lorraine over the summer. He is rude, always asking her out at the last minute and finally standing her up and disappearing.
- Kitty Morrow: Angie's youngest sister. She is ten and likes to play.
The main theme of course is the love of Jack and Angie. The growth of the love is represented by the growth of plants in the novel. At the beginning of the summer Daly describes everything as lush and green. By the time Jack and Angie's last day comes around the frost is coming in to kill the tomatoes. The love has a distinct beginning at the start of summer and a distinct death at the end of summer.
There is also a theme of propriety in the novel. While Jack introduces Angie to a crowd that is inconsistent with the one she was raised in, she is still able to maintain her sense of propriety. She never turns into a Jane Rady. In contrast Lorraine does not keep her sense of propriety and because of this is embarrassed to be with her own family. First on the Fourth of July, then when she sees Angie and Jack out on a date, and finally when she leaves for school early.
Literary significance and criticism
Some critics claim that "the modern period of young adult literature is often said to have begun with Seventeenth Summer". Daly is a teen writing for teens and her work influenced other writers to write specifically with the young adult audience in mind. Dwight Burton claims that, because Daly was so near adolescence herself, "Seventeenth Summer captures better then [sic] any other novel, the spirit of adolescents."
The adolescent work was controversial for its time; though it deals with a chaste relationship between Jack and Angie, it addresses the topic of sexuality and desire in a way that had not yet been addressed in a work of adolescent fiction. Also it shows underage drinking and smoking.
- Vogel, Nancy. "The Semi centennial of Seventeenth Summer: Some Questions and Answers." The ALAN Review 21 (Spring 1994): 41.
- Burton, D H Dwight. The Novel for the Adolescent. The English Journal. 40.7. 363–369.