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Confessions of a Teen Sleuth Hardcover – March 10, 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“I can't remember when I've laughed aloud so frequently during the reading of a book…A wonderful send-up of the Nancy Drew novels.” ―Nancy Pearl, NPR

“Chelsea Cain's gleeful parody Confessions of a Teen Sleuth affectionately hits all the formulaic high points of a Nancy Drew mystery, sending up and yet saluting America's favorite girl detective. All the unspoken truths about money, social status and teenage identity crises ordinarily crammed between the lines of her adventures are outrageously exposed, and the book is no less endearing for it.” ―New York Times Book Review

“A loving parody…breezy fun with a heart of gold.” ―Onion

“Irresistible, hilarious…Cain is a brilliant parodist.” ―Oregonian

“Wondrous fun…An immensely enjoyable re-visioning of the much-loved Nancy Drew, and the best kind of guilty pleasure.” ―Portland Mercury

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Chelsea Cain is the author of The Hippie Handbook (2004) and the memoir Dharma Girl (1996). She edited the anthology Wild Child (2000), about children of the counterculture. She has written for a wide variety of publications and is currently a humor columnist for the Oregonian.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582345112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582345116
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,093,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Chelsea Cain's lighthearted, witty parody of the Nancy Drew series will appeal to all who spent blissful childhood hours curled up with the "slim, attractive, titian-haired" detective. Cain serves up the REAL Nancy Drew, as appealing in her own way as she was in the pages of Carolyn Keene "who got a lot of things wrong."

All the familiar characters are here---Ned Nickerson (whom Nancy does marry); Bess (not really plump at all--indeed, slightly anorexic due to her anxiety over the way she is depicted by Keene); George (with a "life partner"); Hannah Gruen (with a surprising secret); Carson Drew (with a svelte young wife). Many other figures from the pages of childhood mystery series appear--foremost among them, Nancy's love, Frank Hardy.

Readers will find themselves chuckling over every page and experiencing delightful nostalgia mixed with wry, clear-eyed adult humor. You'll love this book!
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Format: Hardcover
Now the truth can be known. Carolyn Keene was a real person. In fact, she was Nancy Drew's college roommate who decided to use Nancy's exploits to make herself famous. Turns out that Carolyn didn't get all the facts right, however, so Nancy has decided to set the record straight.

This book is the story of the real Nancy Drew. Taking 10 cases, it explores her life from the 1920's to 1992. As the times change, so does Nancy's life. But she still finds herself caught up in mysteries that often involve other famous teen sleuths like Frank and Joe Hardy, Judy Bolton, and Encyclopedia Brown. And they are quite eye opening for all concerned.

Make no mistake about it, this book is intended for adults and not kids. There are lots of adult themes, and no halos are left intact. Honestly, as a result, I found it oddly depressing at times. Of course, part of that may be because I was watching characters I like struggle and change. The author nailed that part when she has Nancy talk about how we the readers never want to seem these characters grow up or change. On the other hand, I found the cameos by other teen sleuths (and there seems to be at least one every chapter) fun. Obviously, the more you know about them, the more you'll enjoy the references. A couple went over my head for the most part. Of course, some come out looking better then others. The storylines of each chapter are quite fun as they find Nancy in various points of history. She gets involved in World War II, the red scare of the 50's, and Haight-Ashbury during the 60's as just a couple examples.

This book's target audience is adults with fond memories of hours spent with teen sleuths as a kid. They will most likely enjoy this take on the genre if they can allow their childhood heroes to become tarnished by real life.
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Format: Hardcover
Ok, I'll confess too. I don't like Nancy Drew. I tried to read her growing up, and just could not connect with the beautiful, titian-haired, rich, perfect teen. No, I was a Trixie Belden girl. I could identify with her. I too was short, "sturdy," opened my mouth before thinking, and was definitely not rich nor perfect. I picked up Confessions of a Teen Sleuth not because it was about Nancy Drew, but because of the opening paragraph of the introduction.

"If you are reading this, then I am gone and this manuscript, per my instruction, has been delivered to the writer Chelsea Cain for publication as she sees fit. I chose Ms. Cain as my editor based on the merits of her four-volume Trixie Belden biography, which won the National Book Award last year."

That got my attention. Alas, there is no such biography (I looked-maybe she'll write it someday), but I decided to read the book anyway-perhaps Trixie would show up somewhere (she doesn't, but her daughter does.).

That being said, Confessions is a witty little book (it's only 160 pages-a nice easy evening's read), based on the idea that Nancy Drew was a real person (and Carolyn Keene merely a jealous college roommate who made a living off of Nancy's experiences). It's written in the style of the old mysteries, complete with over-blown details of who wore what and words like "Jeepers." I probably missed a lot of the inside jokes, but those I did catch were amusing. Quite a few of the classic teen sleuths show up: the Hardy boys, Cherry Ames (who does not get along with Nancy at all), Tom Swift, Vicki Barr, and many others.

A note of caution. This is not a book I'd recommend for preteens/teens (especially ones who already love Nancy Drew). Like much fanfic, one of the main plots is definitely adult (and adulterous) in nature (and that's all I can reveal). Despite the slight tarnishing of the characters' squeaky-clean images, Confessions is still an enjoyable little parody.
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Format: Hardcover
A look-back at her life (her real life) by the elderly titian-haired heroine, Confessions of a Teen Sleuth follows Nancy Drew through the decades as she races from crime scene to crime scene in her roadster to solve mysteries. Along the way and over the years, she marries/divorces Ned, has an ongoing thing for Frank Hardy, is tormented by the seemingly constant presence of nemesis Cherry Ames, interacts with the whole pack of teen (and not so teen) sleuths, finds sleuthing and a stable life don't necessarily mix, and faces her most persistent villain--aging.

Let's get the obvious negative out of the way--the book, slim as it is, is too long, a problem that bedevils a lot of parody. Yes, the titian-hair jokes, the slim-and-attractive cliche, etc. wear a bit on the reader after a while. In some ways it might have worked better as a novella or a long short story, or maybe a book with somewhat fewer "cases". But shrinking it down would have cost it somewhat its bittersweetness, its sense of accumulated weight and weariness. And in the end, while some of the jokes go on too long or are too often repeated, it's sort of like how we all forget those seemingly endless unfunny Saturday Night Live skits and remember only the funny highlights. Long after you'll forget your annoyance at some of the smaller foibles of the book, you'll fondly remember the way it made you laugh out loud throughout.

And if you've read and remember Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys, or Tom Swift, or Cherry Ames, or Donna Parker (and a handful of others, including once up-and-coming Encyclopedia Brown reduced to a live-at-home middle-aged sad sack), laugh out loud you will. A lot. At the focus on everyone's dress. At the many titian-hair references.
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