Thursday, June 07, 2012

My Darling, My Hamburger

I can't remember where I read about My Darling, My Hamburger, but it was inspiring enough to add it to my Amazon Wishlist.  Apparently a lot of people my age read it when they were kids and it made quite an impression on them. It was originally published in 1969 by Paul Zindel.   Eventually got around to reading it myself, but, I have to say, I wasn't that impressed.

It's a pretty dated attempt at describing teenage relationships - it carries a kind of after-school-special morality tale about the dangers of sex.  It's about these two couples, one is dorky and awkward and the other is cool and popular.  The popular guy is pressuring the popular girl to have sex and she doesn't want to.  "Is it that you think I won't respect you?" Sean asked quietly. "I'll still respect you. We love each other. I need you, Liz."  Poor Liz gets preggo and ends up having a back-alley abortion (remember this is three years before Roe v Wade). The dorky friends goes for help when she starts bleeding profusely afterward and they aren't friends anymore.  Liz is bitter and angry and the dorky girl goes on with her life.

The title comes from the beginning when a student asks a teacher what to do if a boy wants to "go all the way" - the teacher says the girl should suggest going out for a hamburger.  Whaa whaaaaa! Get it?!? Teenagers don't have the resources to handle the complexities of sexual relationships.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone besides, like, historians or YA Historians.  It's too outdated.  It's hard to imagine why so many people found this book so influential (just check out the reviews on Amazon), I guess back in the 70s it might have felt "real" and "gritty", but now it reads as a mostly sad reflection on the lack of resources available to women.

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