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The Education of Bet
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The Education of Bet

3.7 12
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
 

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When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they’ve both enjoyed a privileged upbringing thus far. But not all is well in their household. Because she’s a girl, Bet’s world is contained within the walls of their grand home, her education

Overview

When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they’ve both enjoyed a privileged upbringing thus far. But not all is well in their household. Because she’s a girl, Bet’s world is contained within the walls of their grand home, her education limited to the rudiments of reading, writing, arithmetic, and sewing. Will’s world is much larger. He is allowed—forced, in his case—to go to school. Neither is happy.

So Bet comes up with a plan and persuades Will to give it a try: They’ll switch places. She’ll go to school as Will. Will can live as he chooses. But once Bet gets to school, she soon realizes living as a boy is going to be much more difficult than she imagined.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
From the Publisher

"With nods to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," Bet’s descriptive, intimate, first-person narrative incorporates historical details and diverse characters, including adult female allies at school...historical-fiction fans will likely find Bet an appealingly lively heroine as she pursues her dreams and makes unexpected discoveries in learning, life, and love."--Booklist

VOYA - Cheryl Clark
In this novel set during the Victorian period in England, Elizabeth Smith—Bet, for short—hits upon a scheme that will allow her and her "brother in spirit," Will Gardener, to both follow their dreams. She will disguise herself as a boy and go to school masquerading as him, while he pursues a career in the military. But with bullies, menstrual problems, and a gorgeous roommate to contend with, Bet soon realizes that getting an education is about more than just Latin and mathematics. This novel is a tepid, predictable fairy tale. Many of the plot elements require an outsized suspension of disbelief. For example, how could a girl as intelligent as Bet so easily forget the demands of her period? And would a roommate, even one as refined as James Tyler, really be so passive as to accept without question "Will's" eccentricities? Buying into this novel demands an acrobatic stretch of the imagination, and that fact, along with its predictability and happy ending, make it perfect fodder for the Disney Channel crowd. Unfortunately, the menstruation debacle, the appearance of a couple of saucy prostitutes, and the co-habitation between Bet and her roommate even after she reveals her gender might make this selection "iffy" even for that set. Give this trifle to teens who like their romance straight, without the bother of reality or logic to muck things up. Reviewer: Cheryl Clark
VOYA - Erica Alexander
Although the plot offers no real surprises, The Education of Bet is a fun and interesting read, thanks to its spunky and determined heroine. Though it lacks action, and is a bit heavy with details, I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of books with strong heroines. Reviewer: Erica Alexander, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Orphaned at four, Bet and Will have been brought up by Will's great-uncle. They were raised together, but not equally, since Bet's mother was a maid who worked for Will's parents. Still, the young people have come to think of each other as siblings. Now that they are 16, Bet wants to attend school and Will seeks to join the army. But in 19th-century England, this is not going to be easy. Will is an underage gentleman—he is expected to go to preparatory school. And as a young woman of no means, she cannot attend a school. But clever Bet hatches a plan so that they can both get their desires—they will swap places. Will joins the army and Bet cuts her hair, binds her breasts, and enrolls in his school—as Will. Baratz-Logsted's writing has broad characterizations; a cheerful, modern tone without overt anachronisms; obvious plot points; a quick pace; and a tidy ending. This makes for a fun read without much depth. By the third page, readers know that Will and Bet share a father, even if the characters do not. As the story progresses, any hiccups in Bet's plan are smoothed over with a minimum of fuss, and all loose ends are tied up neatly by the end. There is a long literary tradition of girls passing themselves off as boys to get further in the world, and while this is a pleasant enough version of that trope, it is not an essential addition to the canon.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547550244
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/18/2011
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Everything I needed to wear beneath my clothes was already in place.
 I selected a shirt the color of unspoiled snow, eased my arms into
the sleeves, slowly did up the buttons from narrow waist to chest and
finally to neck. It felt peculiar to wear something on my upper body,
in particular my waist, that did not bind my skin like a glove. How
odd not to feel constricted where one expected to. The trousers that I
slid up over the slight swell of my hips were made of black superfine
wool, and I buttoned these as well. This was even more peculiar, the
sensation of the expensive fabric against my calves and thighs.
 A sound in the outer hallway brought me up short. Was someone
coming? The threat of intrusion, of discovery before I’d finished,
terrified me. It was a danger I lived with daily, as natural to my new
life as a lack of danger had been to my old one. But after a long
moment spent stock-still, hearing no more noises, I concluded that
the sounds were of my imagination’s making, a product of my fears.
 I was well practiced in the art of tying ties, and I commenced
doing so now, taking up the length of black silk and fitting it around
my collar. Then I took the ends and fashioned a knot that I knew
without looking would fall at a slightly rakish angle. My intention
was to convey that perfect mix of convention (I was wearing a tie)
and indifference to convention (I did not care how that tie looked).
Over all, I put on a black superfine wool coat that matched the
trousers.
 Only then, when I was fully dressed except for shoes, did I turn to
confront my reflection in the looking glass.
 And what did I see there?
 A clean-shaven young gentleman about sixteen years of age, with
thick black hair so wavy there was almost a curl to it—there would
be, on humid days—and eyes nearly as dark; pale skin; generous lips;
a fine straight nose. The young man looking back at me was handsome
and gave offan air of self-confidence.
 There was just one problem; two, actually.
 The barely discernible bulge in the front of the trousers had been
created by a carefully balled-up pair of stockings.
 And the young gentleman—I—was a girl.

Chapter One

“William, I am so disappointed in you!”
 Paul Gardener always addressed his great-nephew as William when
he was displeased with something he had done.
 I was seated on a chair by the fireplace, sewing, my long skirts
around me, as I had been just a moment before when a servant at the
door to the drawing room had announced Will. The drawing room
ran the length of the house, from front to back, and had large
windows at either end that cast long shadows now that night was
nearly upon us. The ceiling was a blinding white, while the walls were
painted scarlet, punctuated with well-placed brass candle fixtures; the
master of the house and I were seated at the room’s far end. There was
an enormous area rug, also in scarlet but accented with cream, and a
large bookcase containing all of the master’s favorite volumes, of
which I’d read more than a few.
 “Bet.” Will acknowledged me with a nod after first greeting his
great-uncle, as was proper.
 “Will.” I returned the nod but saw no reason to rise for the
occasion, although I was happy to see him. I was always happy to see
Will, no matter what the circumstances.
 Paul Gardener did not rise either. It was difficult for him to do so
without assistance. In the past few years, he had aged a great deal.
Indeed, both eyes, formerly a sharp blue, were now so fogged by
cataracts that he glimpsed only flashes of the world through thick
clouds, and it was one of my jobs to read to him from the papers or
from books when he was of a mind to be read to. Still, despite his
many infirmities, Paul Gardener took great care in his dress and
appearance; his proud mane of hair was white and thick. I had seen
artists’ renderings of him when he was younger and knew that in his
youth he had been nearly as handsome as Will.
 “I had somewhat hoped you would be happy to see me, Uncle,”
Will said with a wry smile.
 I dared look at Will no longer for fear I would break out into
laughter, so I cast my gaze back down upon my sewing. It was not so
much that the sewing needed to be done as that I needed something
to do.
 “Of course I am happy to see you!” the old man sputtered. He
looked befuddled for a moment as he corrected himself, “Well, that
is, if I could
see you.” After that brief moment of befuddlement, he
recalled his outrage. Raising a gnarled fist, he shook the sheet of paper
he held clenched in his hand. It was a letter, and ever since I’d read its
contents to him last week, he’d been holding it pretty much every
moment I had seen him. “What,” he thundered, “is the meaning
of this?”
 Without needing to look at what his great-uncle was holding, Will
knew to what he was referring.
 “It means,” he said, “that I have been sent down from school.”
 Which is a nice way, I thought, of saying that you have been expelled.
 “I understand that!” the old man said. “I may be blind, or near
enough, but I am not stupid. But what I don’t understand—what I
cannot understand, William—is why? ”
 Will’s expression softened from its usual air of studied indifference.
Whatever else Will was, he did not like to hurt his great-uncle;
still, he would not do what was against his nature merely to please.
He opened his mouth to speak—perhaps even to make an effort to
sound contrite—but he was stopped by the grandfather clock at the
other end of the room banging out the hour.
 “Oh.” Paul Gardener lowered his fist. “It is time for dinner.”
 No matter what was going on around him—including storms
outside or within the house—Paul Gardener would have his meals
on time.
 “The Boers could show up here in London,” Will had said to me
on his last visit home, “they could march up right to our door and
enter, weapons drawn, and Uncle would say, ‘You may kill me in half
an hour, but first I must finish my supper.’ ”
 Will approached his great-uncle’s chair and, placing his strong
hand under the elderly man’s elbow, helped him to his feet. “Uncle?”
Will invited, holding his own elbow out so that he might escort the
old man to the dining room.
 They were nearly through the doorway when Paul Gardener
paused and cocked his head, listening. His eyesight may have been
awful, but his hearing was perfect.
 “Elizabeth?” he called back to me, having detected the absence of
any following footsteps. “Aren’t you dining with us this evening?”
 He said this as though I were always welcome at the table, and yet
I always waited to be asked, never assuming anything. I knew that
indeed my presence was not always welcome.
 “Of course, sir,” I said, at once setting aside my sewing. It would
never have occurred to me to say no.
 As I followed behind them, I saw Will turn his head and glance
back at me over his great-uncle’s shoulder. His smile was devilish, and
I returned it in full.
 You, Will, I thought, have just been saved by the bell.

But that saving did not last long, not even through the soup course.
 “Really, William, how many times does this make that you have
been sent down from a school? Is this the second or the third?”
The dining room was another long room—really, the entire house
was filled with long things—and the walls were covered in white
wallpaper with a rose pattern. There were framed mirrors on three
walls, a china closet, a curio cabinet, and a sideboard on which
breakfast was often set out. A large Oriental carpet covered much of
the hardwood floor, and the chairs we sat on were ornate, the seats
and backs covered in rose crushed velvet, the carved mahogany trim
intricate. The mahogany table itself could have sat twenty easily, but
we three congregated at one end, Paul Gardener at the head while
Will and I faced each other.
 Overhead, the chandelier shimmered brilliantly.
 “It is the fourth,” Will admitted, at least having the grace to look
embarrassed at this admission.
 “The fourth! ”
 A maid entered, Molly, and she silently proceeded to bring the
platter of roast beef to the master. Sara followed behind her with the
potatoes, and Ann brought up the rear with the assorted vegetables.
 “This last does not really
count as being sent down,” Will said,
smiling as though pleased to be able to make this distinction.
 The old man looked surprised. “It doesn’t?”
 “Not at all,” Will said as Molly brought the platter to his side.
“Since it was end of term, and we were all going home anyway, this
falls more under the heading of my being requested never to return.”
 “Oh.” The old man looked as though his great-nephew had
succeeded in scoring an important point. “I see.”
 Sometimes I wondered if there was anything Will couldn’t
getaway with.
 Will studied the food on his plate, and I took advantage of his
being preoccupied to look at him.
 Will and I had much in common in terms of appearance. Really,
given how alike we were, it was no wonder I sometimes thought of
Will as my brother. I was very tall for a girl, and we were both lean,
although I had some slight curves in places he did not. We both had
dark eyes—although his proud eyebrows were slightly heavier, and
my lashes were longer—and black hair. The texture of our hair was
even similar: wavy with a tendency to curl when the weather was
humid. Of course, my hair was very long while his was trimmed
much shorter. Oh, and I did not need to shave.
 Funny, I did not think myself pretty, and yet I did find Will
handsome.
 “Miss Smith?”
 Those two words called my attention back, and looking to my
side, I saw Molly standing there, waiting for me to serve myself from
the platter.
 The servants always called me Miss Smith whenever the master
and Will were around, but simply Elizabeth when they were not. It
was a thing I had never gotten used to, as though I were two different
people in one body.
 “Thank you, Molly,” I said, helping myself.
 She dipped a curtsy, as she had done after serving the other two,
but the one she dipped for me seemed to have some irony to it.
 Well, who could blame her?
 “Elizabeth?” The old man turned to me once all the servants had
left. “Can you remember all the reasons William has been sent down
from school or, er, requested never to return?”
 I wondered if he really could have forgotten them. I did not like
being put in a position where I had to say anything negative about
anyone else in the household—my own place felt far too tenuous—
but I could not simply ignore a direct question. Well, perhaps if Will
were the one asking.
 “Let me see . . .” I tilted my head toward the ceiling as though it
would take a great effort to remember, as though Will’s scholastic
crimes weren’t so notable that of course they sprang readily to mind.
“The first time was cheating,” I said, then stopped myself. “No,
that’s not right. Will had to build up to that. The first time was lying,
it was the second time that was cheating, the third time was general
mischief—too many fights and that sort of thing—while this last
time, the fourth time—”
 I had to stop myself again, truly puzzled. “Why, I don’t know
what the fourth time was. The letter never said.”
 His great-uncle and I both turned in Will’s direction, questioning
looks on our faces.
 “I, um, set the headmaster’s house on fire,” Will said.
 The old man practically jumped out of his seat. “You set—?”
 “But there was no one inside it at the time,” Will quickly added.
 “You set—? You could
have been arrested! You should have been
arrested! Why weren’t—”
 “It was a decrepit house,” Will said. “The headmaster needed a
new one.” Then he laughed. “Really, I think he was rather grateful for
my efforts, but of course he couldn’t say that, so I was merely asked
never to return.”
 “You’re an arsonist!”
 Will shrugged. “Not if I was never charged with any crime.”
 Although I’d often thought that Will could probably get away with
anything, I did marvel at times that schools kept accepting him, given
his history. But then, all I needed to do was look around me, taking in
the evidence of the enormous wealth of Paul Gardener and the power
I knew went with it. As long as Will had a great-uncle who could
buy him out of trouble, schools would continue to accept him; the ones
that had been provoked into expelling him had done so only with great
reluctance and much apologizing. Were it not for his great-uncle’s
money and influence, Will would no doubt have become a social
pariah for his misdeeds, been kept away from the best of society.
 “I don’t understand.” The old man threw down his napkin in
despair. “You have had every advantage. And you are smart! Why
must you lie? Why must you cheat? Why must you do all of these
awful . . . things? ”
 For once, Will, who always had an answer for everything,
remained silent.
 If his great-uncle had asked me, I could have answered that
question. But he hadn’t, and I was glad of that. Will did not like to
hurt his great-uncle, and I did not like to do so either; I would never
even consider it unless something truly important was at stake.
 “It is almost,” the old man said, as though he had seized upon a
shrewd thought, “as though you do not want to be at school.”
 I almost laughed out loud at this, and from the look on his face,
Will was having a similar reaction.
 “But it does not matter what you want,” the old man went on,
steely now, no longer bothering to wonder why Will did the things he
did. “By the end of summer I will have found you yet another school,
no matter who I have to bribe or how much it costs me. I don’t even
care if it is the worst school in all of England—which is probably the
only sort of place that would accept you at this point—this time, you
will not get sent down! ”

We went back in the drawing room, where Paul Gardener asked for
the pudding course to be served, following which he poured a glass of
port and requested that I read to him.
 Will made to leave, but, having heard the sound of retreating
footsteps, his great-uncle called him back.
 “You will listen to Elizabeth read,” the old man commanded.
“Who knows? You might even learn something.”
 So Will slouched in a chair, hands clasped behind his head, long
legs stretched out in front of him, looking bored out of his mind as I
read from King Lear.
 The old man liked me to read Shakespeare to him, liked that I had
a talent for creating different voices for all the characters so he never
had to ask me who was speaking, but not many pages in he was
snoring in his seat.
 “Come outside with me, Bet?” Will invited.
 I placed a piece of red silk ribbon to mark the spot where I’d left
Offreading and gently put the volume aside. Then I followed Will out
of the room, to the rear of the house, and through the French doors
that led to the back garden.
 Taking a seat on the curved stone bench, I watched as Will paced
under the early moonlight.
 With no more sun, and with summer proper yet to get under way,
it was chilly out. Could we not, I wondered as I rubbed my hands
over my arms for warmth, have discussed whatever Will wanted to
discuss inside?
 “If I have to go back to that school, I will go mad! ” Will erupted.
 “Well,” I said, reasonably enough, “you do not have to go back to
that school. In fact, you cannot go back to that school.”
 “Any school, then,” he said, seething.
 “Will you please stop pacing?” I said. “It is dizzy-making watching
you go back and forth like this.”
 “Fine.” Will still seethed but at least he obeyed my request,
coming to sit beside me.
 “Your great-uncle is right,” I said. “Your behavior makes no sense.
You are smart enough to do well in school, very well, and yet you
choose not to. You are good enough not to do the awful things you
do, and yet you choose to do them anyway.”
 “Yes, yes, I am a puzzle to everybody.
Please, Bet,” he said. “You’re
not going to say ‘Why, Will?’ to me too, are you?”
 “No, of course not. I know why you do as you do. It is because
you do not wish to be where you are.”
 “Yes!” His sense of relief at being understood for once was so
strong I could almost reach out and touch it with my hand, touch
him to show my sympathy.
 And yet I couldn’t do that. It was rare for me to touch another
person and just as rare to have another person touch me.
 So instead I settled for unleashing my anger. Will and I had known
each other long enough that I could
do that in front of him, provided
we were alone; I could
do it in front of no one else in the world.
 “And do you have any idea,” I said, “how insanely angry you
make me?”
 He drew back at this, startled.
 I continued before he could stop me.
 “I can read just as well as you can, Will Gardener! I am just as
smart as you are! And yet I am stuck here, in this house, while
you”—now it was my turn to seethe, and I gestured toward
him with my hand, disgusted—“you are out there in the world!”
 “You are right,” he admitted softly. “It is not fair.”
 That softness, that sensitivity, was almost harder to bear than his
infuriating behavior. In a way, I felt as though he’d be doing me a
favor if he were to laugh at my ambition. Perhaps if he did, I would
think my desires silly as well, and eventually, one day, I would stop
wanting what I could not have.
 “Right,” I said, crossing my arms firmly against my chest. “It is
not fair.”
 “But it is the way of the world,” he said.
 I did not like this so much. I did not like thinking anything
impossible. But now I worried that if we continued on in this vein, I
would burst into tears of frustration in front of him, and this I did
not want to do.
 So I changed the subject.
 “Tell me, Will. I know you do not want to be at school—I think
even your great-uncle understands that, even if he does not like
it—but if you could have whatever you wanted, if you could have
your greatest wish, what would you be doing instead?”
 “Promise you will not laugh?”
 I did not promise. I merely gave him an offended look. The very
idea—as though I could not be trusted not to laugh.
 Will took a deep breath and spoke on the exhale. “I should like to
join the military.”
 It was a good thing I had made no promise, because I did laugh.
 “But that is . . . that is . . . preposterous!” I laughed some more.
 “No, it is not.”
 “But you are only sixteen!” I laughed even harder. “You are
too young!”
 “No, I am not.” His voice grew enthusiastic; his face became
animated with excitement. “Do you know, Bet, that they have tents
at fairs, stalls in the streets—all you need do is go to one of these
places, say you are of age, and they will believe you. They want to
believe you.”
 His words sobered me instantly, the idea that such an idiotically
dangerous thing could
be so ridiculously easy. But then I thought
about it some more and pulled a face.
 “Well, if it is that easy, then why don’t you go enlist right now?”
 I thought I had him. He was fine at talk. But when it came down
to it, he was too scared to reach for what he wanted.
 He gave a nod of his head toward the house, where his great-uncle
snored by the dying fire inside. “Because of him,” he said. “It would
kill him if I left.”
 “You leave him all the time when you go to school,” I scoffed.
 “Not like this,” he said. “When I go offto school, he has good
reason to be sure that I will come back, and that when I come back I
will be alive.”
 Now there was a cheerful thought.
 And a sensitive one as well.
 It gave me pause to think that, amidst all the lying and cheating
and mischief and arson, Will had managed to grow quite a bit of
compassion for other people.
 “I am all he has left,” Will went on.
 I was tempted to point out that his great-uncle had me also but I
did know that it wasn’t quite the same thing. Family was not something
that could be replaced, as I well knew. And whatever else I
might be to the old man—helper, reader, on some days even friend—
I was not family.
 Will confirmed as much by adding, “I did try to raise the issue
with him last time I was home—I thought perhaps I could join the
military in the usual fashion, go to an appropriate training school first
before entering into the service—but I had to stop when he became
upset. ‘Don’t you realize you are my only remaining relative? If
something happened to you, I would die.’ ” Will attempted a casual
shrug but couldn’t quite pull it off. “It was awful.”
 It was awful, to think of the old man so upset. But it was also
awful, perhaps even more so, to think of people
not pursuing the things they wanted most in life.
 I had one dream in this world, wanted one thing: the chance to be
at school. Will had that thing I wanted most, and yet he valued it
cheaply, dreamed of something else. Was there not some way Will
and I could both achieve our dreams?
 I was thankful that Will was so dejected about the hopelessness of
his situation that, for once, he remained silent long enough to allow
me time to think. That was the thing whenever Will was home: it was
wonderful having his energy fill up the musty corners of the house,
bring life back to the old place, but his energy did fill it up, entirely,
so there was little space for anything but Will.
 But now . . .
 I asked myself the question again: Was there not some way both
Will and I could achieve our dreams?
 And within that blessed silence, I began to see the glimmering of
an idea, which fast formed into a full-fledged plan.
 Could we . . . ? If we both agreed . . . ?
 As the excitement grew in me, I began to find fault with my own
idea. For one thing, it could never work. For another thing, and
perhaps more important in terms of my own vanity, Will would no
doubt laugh in my face. If he, as evidenced earlier, did not like to be
laughed at, I liked it even less. When you possess little in the world
except your own pride, it is an awful thing to have it taken from you.
 But what was I talking about? Why let pride stand in the way of
what I wanted? And why give up and declare a thing impossible
before even trying?
 I had to try.
 But before that, I did still have to point out, breaking the silence:
 “You do realize war is stupid?” I said, eyes narrowing at Will.
 “I do know that girls think that,” he allowed.
 “And girls are right.” I paused. “Still . . .”
 “Still what, Bet?” he prompted when I did not speak for a long time.
 Considering how often males were the center of attention in the
household, never mind in the greater world, it was nice to feel as
though I could occupy that place as well, when I had a mind to.
 “Let’s see,” I said. “You want something I don’t understand and
have no use for—to go to war. And I want something you think is
silly and do not want—to get an education. Have I got that right?”
 Will shrugged, looking perplexed and even a trifle annoyed at
what he no doubt regarded as my pointless statement of the obvious:
facts of life that could never be changed. “I suppose.”
 “Perhaps,” I said, feeling the smile stretch across my face, “there is
a way we can help one another out.”

Meet the Author

Lauren Baratz-Logsted has written books for all ages. Her books for children and young adults include the Sisters Eight series, The Education of Bet and Crazy Beautiful. She lives with her family in Danbury, Connecticut.

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The Education of Bet 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hisorical and shows how far a person will go to get an education. Also how a girl can be the best of the best.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
I have to give this book only one star for many reasons, and I only read the first 4 chapters!(some of the inappropriate material in the book has been transfered to this review, so if you do not what to read about what exactaly was negative in this book than just trust me by saying this book was inappropriate) I actually liked the beginning of this book. I was eager to read more. I got to chapter three or four and the book became too inappropiate to read further. Bet alters her image so that she can go to school as a boy ( as Will her brother - or almost brother - read overview). To alter her appearance she stuffs stockings down her pants to change her shape.Will comments that she made one of the bodyparts to big. I tried to ignore this by saying that she would have to do this to look like a boy. It gets worse. Bet asks Will what school will be like and he answers her by taking her to a pub (as a boy). At the pub he buys her a drink, and then two women come up and ask Will and the other Will (Bet dressed as a boy named Will) to buy them drinks. Will smiles and buys both girls drinks, and afterward the girls come and sit on Will and Will (Bet's) laps. They ask for a place to stay, and Bet is confused by this until Will tells her that they want to lodge with them. She then pushes the girl on her lap off of her lap wondering if Will has ever bedded a girl down before. The girl once sitting on her lap is surprised and asks if Will (Bet) has never slept with a girl before and then she does something very inappropriate with one of Will (Bet's) supposed body parts then laughs and says, " I guess not." I stopped reading after that. I wish that I would have know about this before I started reading so I wouldn't have wasted my time reading the first few chapters. I don't suggest this book.
Tiger_Holland More than 1 year ago
Will and Bet have been raised as siblings in old Mr. Gardener's house, but Mr. Gardener is Will's great uncle and Bet knows that although she's treated nearly like family, she's just the orphaned daughter of a maid, taken in as an act of pure charity. But by the time she's sixteen, she knows her good fortune can't last--she has no inheritance, no status and no permanent position in the house. So when Will gets expelled from his fourth school in a row and he explains to her that his heart is set on going into the military, she concocts a plan: Will will go and joins the army while she impersonates him at his new school. The period details in the scenery and daily activities are good, though I believe I've found some anachronisms in the dialogue, so fans of historical fiction should find it appealing. Bet is an alright character who stands up in the face of adversity and does the impossible in order to get an education and some freedom. I was shocked, though, that she wasn't found out immediately, because the divide between girls' behavior and boys' behavior in her time period is so vast that she sticks out like a sore thumb. Even after Will trains her in boyishness, she's not too passable as a guy and she gets bullied as a result of this. One bright spot in her school troubles is James Tyler, her roommate, who's unaccountably nice to her. And yes, she starts to develop serious feelings for him. Her thoughts about James are sweet, but the way she watched him constantly seemed like a hardcore invasion of privacy, since he didn't know her identity. I would have really liked The Education of Bet when I was younger--in middle school I loved historically-set stories about girls dressing as boys because it seemed like boys had so many more adventures and opportunities, especially in the past. If you can suspend disbelief and just enjoy the story, it can be fun to follow Bet's life, seeing how she'll manage competing in spots, navigating a dance, forging letters, etc. Be sure to give it a look if you like historical YA.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Bet lives with family, but she's not quite family but not quite a servant either. She's in between and for the most part she's happy. However, she longs for a chance to become educated. While Will comes home disgraced from yet another school, Bet attempts to understand why he doesn't like formal education. When she asks him, he confesses that he'd like to join the army. Immediately, Bet recognizes a golden opportunity for both of them to achieve their dreams. As Will must attend a new school after summer, she volunteers to go in his place leaving him free to join the army. Bet and Will spend the summer turning into a boy. Then they go their separate ways. Will forgot to mention a few nuggets of information such as roommates, and bullies. Bet must figure out how to fool her roommate, not let the bullies intimidate her, and study without drawing attention to herself and giving away her secret identity. Can she pull off the biggest scam, especially when she falls for her roommate? My Thoughts: This reminds of Amanda Bynes' movie She's the Man -but without the soccer. I loved this book - Bet was clever, funny, and willing to take her life into her own hands. I found myself laughing at her snarky remarks and rooting for her all the way. I also really loved the nurse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lisslalissar More than 1 year ago
Bet is a 19th century girl unsatisfied with her situation in life. Forced to stay home as caretaker and companion to her elderly guardian, Bet longs to attend school like her best friend Will. Will, however, is bored with school and wants to make a career for himself in the military. When Will is expelled from school for the fourth time, Bet decides this is just the opportunity they both need to fulfill their dreams. Bet will take Will's place at his new school, while Will can explore the world with the navy. Betterman Academy, though, is nothing like Bet expected. Can she survive in this new world of determined bullies, indifferent teachers, and a handsome roommate? SPOILERS (just a little) I found this book an enjoyable and quick read. Bet is a fun character to follow and root for throughout the book. I liked how she stood up to bullies but couldn't really defeat them, which would have seemed unrealistic. The feminist thread, on the other hand, did seem unrealistic to me. Would every woman really support Bet in her quest for education? The romance also seemed contrived because we never really understand why the two characters like each other (forgetting that, though, I did enjoy their chemistry). Despite its plot weaknesses, I still liked this book and appreciated that the author made Bet face real problems without easy solutions.
wicked_walker More than 1 year ago
The Quick and the Dirty...A quick and hilarious book about a girl determined to follow her dreams, no matter what it takes. Why I was tempted to read this...I have been a fan of Lauren's writing for awhile (see my review on Crazy Beautiful) and I love historical fiction, this was a no-brainer read for me and I have been looking forward to it for months! Cover thoughts...Very pretty, very time-period appropriate. Romance Meter...It was about a 3.5 out of 5 on the romance, there is definitely an attraction between Bet (or Will as she calls herself when she is in disguise) and her roommate, James. This romance of course cannot be pursued too much because James thinks she is guy! When Bet gets to attend a dance as herself when "Will" is sick, the romance starts there with the obvious spark between the two and keeps things heated up, especially when she has a tendency to want to act like Bet when she is Will around James! Character and Plot...Bet is determined to get an education, something not allowed to women in the era she lived, even if that means cutting off her hair and learning how to be a guy. Will, the boy that was brought up as a brother to her, doesn't appreciate school and would really rather join the military and start living his life, so Bet proposes a trade. She will be him and go to school (since he has to start a new one for getting expelled from the last one) and he can go join the military. While trying to plan for everything, of course, Bet forgets some very important things and doesn't know about others, so needless to say she isn't really prepared for a lot of things at school. This book had me laughing out loud at some of the stuff she was doing and how she reacted to certain things, but this girl has backbone and I really liked that about her. James, her roommate and future love, is very mysterious and different from most of the kids at the school, his character develops more towards the end of the book. At 192 pages, this is a quick, light read but one I finished in an afternoon because it was really fun to read. Bet and her antics will have you laughing out loud and flipping pages because you will want to know what kind of trouble she will get into next. The Ending...It ended was pretty predictably but good. Everything wrapped up nicely with no major surprises except with James, because you just didn't know much about him. You will walk away chuckling and smiling and wishing the book was a little bit longer so you could stay in Bet's world to see what she will get into next. If you haven't read any books by this author, I urge you to grab one and get ready to crack up, she has a great sense of humor.