The Compulsive Reader: The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

All her life, Bet Smith has wanted the one thing that every boy her age has scorned and squandered: an education. So when her foster brother Will Gardener expresses an interest in joining the military instead of attending a new school, Bet leaps at the chance to execute an impossible plan: she'll masquerade as Will and attend school in his place. Will doesn't think it is possible to pull off such a feat, but Bet is determined. But will her determination and spirit help her endure the brutal ways of the opposite sex and her growing attraction for her enigmatic roommate?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's latest novel, set in Victorian England, is a delight. Baratz-Logsted has taken a commonly used plot--a girl masquerading as a boy--and breathed new life into it with Bet's determined and lively impersonation of her foster brother, Will, and readers won't be able to resist looking up to the way she stands up to the bullies of her school and looks out for the boys that get picked on, even as she is made a target herself. The characters are well defined and memorable: Will is a lovable, if not mischievous, foster brother whose wit and smarts will keep readers laughing, and James is a rather interesting (and a bit dreamy) character who proves that not all boys Bet meets at school are pigs, and the romance between him and Bet is sweet.

Another really great element to the story that gives it some extra depth is Bet's struggle with her station in life. She has always felt slightly below the Gardeners, but above the servants, and has felt the discomfort of not knowing where she stands with her benefactor and the mystery of her father really was. Baratz-Logsted handles this issue well, and the resolution, though not perfect, is plausible and believable. All of these things together have ensures that The Education of Bet is a lively and humorous novel with a lot of heart.

Cover Comments: I do like this cover a lot, though it does seem that it is more early 20th century than late 19th century Victorian. That's a detail that may escape many readers, and the general prettiness of the cover will attract many eyes anyway!

ARC received from publisher.


Brahmin in Boston said...

Heyyy, this sounds uncannily similar to "She's the man"- Which, by the way, I loved!

Channing was dreamy as heck :)

But you're right. The foster issue is another element in the story that would be offer a diff. perspective.

AnimeGirl said...

Oh! I wants this!!
I love this plot! and I'm glad you said it turned out okay!

The review was lovely


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yabooknerd said...

I can't wait to read this one! I looks super cute :)

loreleimarsh said...

I'm glad you liked this one too! I was quite fond of it myself and believe the author did a fabulous job of updating an older story line.