Miss P. and Me
Gwen Zilm was Technical Services Librarian, Okanagan College, Kelowna, British Columbia.
This is Florence McNeil’s first published novel for young people.
Miss P. and Me is the story of Susie, a girl in early adolescence, who feels overshadowed by her mother (a successful dance teacher) and misunderstood by both her parents and friends. In trying to come to a comfortable sense of herself, she fails to meet the expectations of her mother, herself, and her much-admired dance teacher, Miss P. She feels frustration, disappointment, and anger and her initial immature response to these feelings is to blame someone else for her own limitations.
This is not an upbeat “you can be anything you want to be” novel. It is, however, realistic and relevant in that maturing does involve learning to live with some limitations. In Miss P. and Me, girls with the names Susie, Sandra, and Jane compete with one another to be the best dancer. This gives the novel a dated feel, as though the author had patterned her novel after those she read twenty years ago. This may be due to her inexperience as a novelist.
The skill she shows in conveying the emotional intensity of adolescence and the difficulty of learning to respond appropriately to those feelings saves the novel. There will be readers who do identify with those feelings. Recommended purchase for school and public libraries.