Seventeenth Summer



Title: Seventeenth Summer

Author: Maureen Daly

Publisher: Simon Pulse  reissue April 27, 2010 (1942)

ISBN: 9781416994633

About the author: from

Maureen Daly (March 15, 1921 – September 25, 2006), was an Irish-born American writer best known for the novel Seventeenth Summer (1942). While published for adults, it became one of the first to capture a teenage audience. Some scholars consider it the first young adult novel.

Maureen Daly was born in Castlecaufield, County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland, in 1921. Northern Ireland was created that year with Tyrone one of its six counties. She had two older sisters, Marguerite and Kathleen. The family emigrated early in the 1920s and the youngest daughter, Sheila, was born in the U.S.[1]

Daly won an O. Henry Award for the short story “Sixteen” while still at high school. Seventeenth Summer was written before she turned twenty. By 1982 it had gone into 45 hardcover editions.

She was one of what TIME magazine called “the celebrated Daly sisters”, four sisters who were known for their writing and work in, journalism, fashion and advertising. The eldest, Maggie Daly (1917–1992), was a Chicago Tribune columnist – and all four were employed by the Tribune at least once.  Kay Daly (1919–1975) was an advertising executive.

In 1947 Maureen Daly married mystery and crime thriller writer William P. McGivern. They co-wrote Mention My Name in Mombasa; the Unscheduled Adventures of an American Family Abroad, which covered their times and adventures living oversees – including Africa, Torremolinos, Spain, and Dublin – and visiting her birthplace, Castlecaulfield.

Daly also worked as a journalist on papers and magazines including the Chicago Tribune,[2] Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post. As of 1994 she wrote a food column in the The Desert Sunof Palm Springs, California, as a restaurant critic. She was awarded the American Freedom Foundation Medal in 1952. She died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Palm Desert, California.[5]

Plot: Angie Morrow and Jack Duluth are having a sweet, innocent romance the summer after high school graduation. Angie has plans to go to college in the fall, and Jack will go into his father’s bakery business. Will their love last?

Critical Evaluation:

Angie Morrow and Jack Duluth are experiencing first love in the summer after high school graduation. Angie and Jack know that they don’t have the same goals in life, and try to enjoy their short, sweet summer together before Angie goes away to college.

Angie is an introspective and believable character. She is also awkward, as she truly believes that everyone else in the world knows how to handle themselves except her. Her voice is lyrical and sweet, and we know that she has a lot to learn of the world.

Told in a first-person narrative, we get to hear Angie’s embarrassment of Jack, almost as if she was looking for a reason to not like him. There is an awkward family dinner where Angie is embarrassed by the way Jack eats.  “I sat very still beside Jack but my mind squirmed with repulsion and my lips curled with distaste as I thought of it. Any boy who couldn’t even eat ice cream without making noise!” Later at that same dinner, “…Jack clicked his spoon against his teeth!”Jack is a likeable and sympathetic character, and we feel his embarrassment. Later on that evening, she wonders to herself why she would be so cold to him.

There is an atmospheric feeling of summer in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. The homespun and nostalgic feeling of a small town summer are a joy. The boat that Angie and Jack ride on in the lake is symbolic of the short summer journey that they have together. There is an emotionally intense scene when Jack, in desperation, proposes to Angie in one last attempt to stop her from getting on the train to college. He tells her that he loves her.

Angie has plans for college, not love. “Such adult boldness is almost sinful, but ever since Jack told me in the truck behind Pete’s I had wondered. But no matter how hard I tried to imagine, my lips wouldn’t say it. Love is such a big word.”

Maureen Daly was just 17 when she wrote this bittersweet coming of age novel. Daly tells the story of Angie Morrow and Jack Duluth through the eyes of Angie. Heartbreaking with reality, this makes the reader remember how wonderful yet painful young love can be.


Reader’s Annotation: First love is magical.

Genre: coming-of-age novel, teen romance, historical fiction

Curriculum Ties: history, teen classics

Booktalking Ideas: What would it have been like to grow up in Angie’s town of Fond Du Lac in the 1940s? Discuss the differences of then versus today.

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+

Challenge Issues: N/A

Challenge Resources 

  • Library Selection Policy
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Why did you pick this for your collection?

  • teen classics