Friday, June 10, 2016
I must admit I was disappointed by Frederick Kohner's Gidget. Here are some things you should know: 1) It was originally published in 1957. 2) It is to some degree based on a true teen girl named Kathy, nicknamed Gidget. 3) Fredrick Kohner, the author, based the book on his own daughter and on his own daughter's coming of age story. 4) It is set in Malibu in the mid 1950s. 5) The book became popular enough that a movie was made. 6) Presumably the movie and book were doing so well, it became a TV show. There was something sweet and verging on innocent about the first movie and about the TV show. Not so the book. It may make it more realistic in some people's opinion. 7) The book is written in first person.
The heroine, Franzie, a.k.a "Gidget," is fifteen years old and in love with the beach, the ocean, all things surf, including surfers--no matter their age. She considers herself all grown up, or, at the very least, mostly grown up. I personally prefer "clean" or even "squeaky clean" books in terms of language. This one has a lot of bad language, and, in particular a lot of taking the Lord's name in vain. I was NOT expecting Gidget to have the mouth that she does, because that is certainly not depicted in the movie or the TV show!!! Her days are devoted to the beach, to surfing, to hanging out with as many surfer guys as she can. She becomes particularly close to two. One being "the love of her life" Jeff (aka Moondoggie) and the other Cass (Big Kahuna). Perhaps because her first sex-dream is of Jeff, she becomes convinced that he is the one and that they are meant to be together forever and ever and of course she must share her dream with him and tell him how much he means to her!
There is great longing and much curiosity in Gidget. She's a boy-chaser. (Also she wants to smoke and drink and be one of the guys.) She doesn't want to be thought of as a fifteen year old girl who should be at home with her parents. Her thoughts are definitely becoming more and more focused on one thing. She's scared to death of it and longing for it at the same time. When Jeff begins to show some interest in her--physical interest--she's more than okay being the "other woman." Who cares if he's got a girlfriend?! He's hers for the summer. His girlfriend isn't here at the beach. His girlfriend doesn't even surf. Surely she's not worth any consideration! Jeff's lips are HER LIPS...at least until college starts back up in the fall.
One could easily say that nothing and everything happens in this one.
Nothing if you are looking at it in terms of events alone. It's a bit repetitive. Wake up. Go to beach. Follow Moondoggie around. Surf. Get sick for a week or maybe two. Get better. Go to beach. Have awkward conversations with brother-in-law and parents. Go to beach. Sneak out to all-night beach orgy. Go surfing. Make silly reflective statements about how mature you are now as compared to then.
Everything if you are looking at it in terms of capturing very angst-y, awkward, embarrassing moments that may be common enough to one and all but more cringe-worthy than anything else.
One thing that makes it creepy, for me, is that it is a father writing about his daughter. Even if it's fifty-fifty in its origins--half fictional, half based on true events/people--it's still a bit weird for me when I think about a father writing about his daughter's lust and curiosity. There are just some scenes in this one that are uncomfortable if you keep this in mind. Other scenes are just awkward. Like when Jeff tries to explain to Gidget that dreams are dreams are dreams and not actual reality or signs from the universe that you belong together.
Reading the book did make me appreciate the movie more. The changes made between the book and the movie were for the best, I think. The romance comes across better, cuter.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews