It’s totally a thing. On Sunday, I sat down and fulfilled category #33, A Book From Your Childhood. This involved finding a book from my childhood that I hadn’t read prior, which meant one of the Hardy Boys books. As I was wandering the aisles at Half Price Books, I stumbled upon their Hardy Boys section and chose one at random which is why, this particular Sunday, I read A Figure in Hiding by Franklin Dixon (or Leslie McFarlane, his actual name) written in 1937.
As I was reading, I was in awe of myself as a child. Many turns of phrase from the time go completely over my head. As I sat there reading ridiculously outdated quotes and exultations, I immediately began to question my ability to comprehend text as a young adult reading these novels. If I didn’t understand them now, was I really understanding them then?
Which (naturally) then lead me down the path of
extreme stream of conscience, “Maybe I was just reading for the mystery?” After all, the mystery aspect is what sets each book apart. Each book revolves around one case of mysterious incidents that Frank and Joe unravel with the help (sometimes) of their friends, Chet, Tony, Biff, and occasionally their father.
I finally decided I was thinking too hard and I just had to get through the book so I could mark it off my list.
Of course, that’s never enough for me…
As I reached the end of the book, I had internally created a list of reasons why the Hardy Boy series were deemed books for children when they dealt with gruesome and horrifying topics like teenagers getting targeted by mad scientists/surgeons or being capsized and then chased by someone hell-bent on chopping them to pieces with the boats’ propeller.
While McFarlane succeeded in wrapping his mysteries together in a nice little bow for the audience, he fails to expound on details that are what truly make a fun read a great one.
The Hardy’s themselves are teenagers. They are in school. I know this because the beginning of the book starts with the two of them winning at some unknown sport for their school. Now, I’d assume that these sports aren’t played during the summer. That means, it’s during the school year. Now, even if you go so far as to assume that the game took place on a Friday night…at no point in the following week (the length of time that it takes the boys to solve the case,) do they take a single moment to attend class. (They do, however, take a sentence and a half to mention that on Sunday, they attended church.)
These two boys have their own boat. Not a family boat. Their own boat. They take it out whenever they so choose. They also have their own car and apparently no curfew. Their mom’s single purpose in the book is…you know? I have no idea. She cooks a meal for them…but if they are out until 3:45 in the morning, there’s no oversight. They come home and she’s asleep.
Their father encourages them to get into dangerous situations without informing the police. And SPEAKING OF THE POLICE! They, knowing Fenton Hardy’s reputation as a private investigator, not only hand over any and all information regarding the case to the boys, but they also make the effort to call the boys and keep them posted on their findings.
It’s details like these that took me out of the action as an adult. Throughout childhood, you can suspend belief and just enjoy the story…as you probably don’t know any better. As an adult, I constantly scoffed at the shenanigans these two got into.
Lastly, I realize it was the 1930’s, but taking the one Italian character, appropriately named Tony, mind you, and having him only appear as a plot device to explain some old Italian mythology that then breaks the entire case wide open…Isn’t that just a bit stereotypical? Just a bit?
Anyway. I got through it. I’m now on to my next challenge, #9 A Book By A Female Author. I’ll be reading Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok.
Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (America-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire world has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works—miserably—as a dishwasher.
Until next time…