cover image The Education of Bet

The Education of Bet

Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Houghton Mifflin, $16 (192p) ISBN 978-0-547-22308-7

With a Shakespearean plot—the maid's daughter masquerades as a boy in order to attend private school—Baratz-Logsted (Crazy Beautiful) hasn't ventured into uncharted literary territory in her latest novel. What she has done, however, is write a delightfully earnest story about gutsy 16-year-old Bet, who is determined to get an education. Set in 19th-century England, the story follows Bet as she stealthily and comically pretends to be her wealthy but ne'er-do-well childhood friend, Will, at the Betterman Academy, "where parents and guardians stow their charges when no one else in the world will have them." Bet quickly learns that a boy's world is not without difficulties: bullies, compulsory sports, and dances chief among them. But her hardest challenge comes when she falls in love with her serious and slightly odd roommate, James. Baratz-Logsted amusingly describes the lengths to which Bet goes to pass as a boy (cutting off her hair) and keep her secret (insisting on changing clothes in the dark). Readers will root for Bet to the very end, as she proves that from lemons can come the sweetest lemonade. Ages 12–up. (July)