Readers may remember the Betsy-Tacy books for the younger set, with larger print, a different illustrator, and less complicated sentence structure. As Betsy grows older, the style of the books becomes more sophisticated. There is one book for each year that Betsy is in high school, and Betsy in Spite of Herself is an account of Betsy's sophomore year. The books have the feel of a first person narrative because the stories are semi-autobiographical. Some editions have end sections describing the real people that inspired the fictional citizens of Deep Valley, Minnesota.
At the beginning of her sophomore year, Betsy resolves to reinvent herself in an effort to become more alluring to the opposite sex. She is normally quite bubbly, but decides to be reserved and mysterious. At first, her plan fails miserably. However, she gets a second chance when she leaves on her first major vacation: a trip to visit her friend Tib in Milwaukee over Christmas break. Tib, a serious girl, is awed by Betsy's plan, and resolves to remake herself, too, resolving to be as nymph-like as her looks suggest. Betsy changes the spelling of her name to Betsye, uses large amounts of perfume, speaks softly, and takes care to always look polished. Upon her return, Betsy succeeds in winning over the aloof but handsome rich boy, Phil Brandish. After a few months as Betsye, however, Betsy begins to question the success of her makeover.
This report prepared by Katy Pape