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Gidget (Gidget series #1)

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,768 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
If all American literature comes from Huckleberry Finn, all American surf culture comes from Gidget, the ostensible diary of Kathy Kohner, a teensy, gutsy teenage girl who crashed the all-male scene at Malibu Beach north of L.A. in 1957 and earned, from Moondoggie and others, the nickname Gidget, which meant "Girl Midget." Her father, the German immigrant screenwriter Fred ...more
Published 1963 by Penguin (first published October 1957)
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Jun 16, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this was fascinating. I grew up watching reruns of the Gidget TV show, starring Sally Field as the bubbly surfer girl. I also loved the movies, and the Frankie and Annette movies about surfing and beach parties. What I didn't realize was that it was a book that started it all (this book, obviously) and that the book was based on a real life girl!

Frederick Kühner was a Hollywood screenwriter whose daughter Kathy became obsessed with surfing at the age of fifteen. She started hanging out all d
Jan 10, 2013 Leo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Having seen and enjoyed the 1959 Sandra Dee film a year or two before reading the book I came to it expecting a fun, quick read with possibly some unintentional humor due to dated references/slang. While it is certainly fun and a term or two may have illicited a smile I was surprised by how modern this read was. The subject matter is a lot more adult than one would expect.
On the back of the book is a quote from the Hartford Courant that compares it to The Catcher in the Rye and while before re
Jan 31, 2015 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
This was a strange and off-putting book. Gidget of 1960s TV and movies was based on a real person, Kathy Kohner, the daughter of screenwriter and novelist Frederick Kohner. The summer she was 15, she spent all her time on the beach at Malibu Colony, hanging out with the surf bums and learning to surf herself, and her dad wrote this book based on that summer. It's written from the point of view of Gidget two years after the fact, but possibly the combination of 1950s teen slang as voiced by the 5 ...more
Aug 12, 2014 Regina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty awesome book for a beach read. I finished it in a few nights. You can almost picture Sally Field narrating the entire book. It was great to hear a bit of the 1950s Malibu nostalgia as well. A great read about a girl coming to age, her strong emotions of love, and the beauty of California surfing.
Amy Rae
My edition of Gidget included introductory material that lauded the book as "The Catcher in the Rye for girls," and I couldn't stop thinking about that while I read it. I agree wholeheartedly, for what it's worth; Gidget is a surprisingly foul-mouthed bildungsroman about a girl who loves surfing and wants more than anything to prove herself. Sure, it's not quite as literary--the colour red doesn't mean anything here--but it has the breezy narration, the focus on the self, the general time period ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016reviews
I must admit I was disappointed by Frederick Kohner's Gidget. Here are some things you should know: 1) It was originally published in 1957. 2) It is to some degree based on a true teen girl named Kathy, nicknamed Gidget. 3) Fredrick Kohner, the author, based the book on his own daughter and on his own daughter's coming of age story. 4) It is set in Malibu in the mid 1950s. 5) The book became popular enough that a movie was made. 6) Presumably the movie and book were doing so well, it became a TV ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Dayna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone that likes the old movies.
Shelves: books-i-own
I enjoyed this book. I read it because I like the movie by the same name ... the old one with Sandra Dee. It is not by any means a great work of literature ... it is a fun and easy read though.

It is actually based on the real-life experiences of the author's daughter. She was a real surfer-girl in a time when surfing was still a sport (or more like a hobby) of male beach bums. While being based on a real person it's a fictionalized account ... but it is believable without being philisophical. L
There is no way on earth that I would have voluntarily chosen to read this book, but it was the selection for my book club this month. It is the book on which the Gidget movies and TV series were based and is the story of real life Kathy Kohner (now Zuckerman), who lived in Malibu and at age 15 fell in with the surfers at Malibu beach. The book is written by her father (and it amazes me that a DAD could write this book) and uses what I assume is the vernacular of the beach set in the 1960s. Thou ...more
Donna Montgomery
Gidget has a great sense of voice and character, and I love the heroine's transformation from shy "girl midget" to confident surfer chick. Gidget's definitely got her share (and more) of guy trouble, but the focus of the story stays on what she wants and learns about herself. The book's final pages - especially the last two lines - are really refreshing, they make this one a pleasure to come back to again and again.

(This was previously posted as a summer reading suggestion on my blog.)
Holly Cara Price
THIS BOOK IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK. it's an incredibly written, fantastic journey into the inner mind of a teenage girl. It's full of love, beauty, sadness, angst, and awesomeness. Forget what came after, the franchise, the TV show, the movies, the perkiness, the crap. This is the real deal before it was spoiled by popularity. If you are now, or have ever been, a teenage girl...READ IT.
Jack Beltane
Feb 16, 2016 Jack Beltane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What sold me on this book was two things: 1) I loved the TV show but never knew it was a book first; 2) one reviewer called it a west coast "Catcher in the Rye." I admit, the second point had me most curious--that's a pretty heady statement. Thing is, I'd say it's basically true.

To be clear, the east coast drear and dark-near-suicidal vibe of "Catcher" is replaced by surf and sun, and the protagonists are opposite sexes, but in terms of world view, I think Holden may have fallen for Gidget, and
Connie  Kuntz
I'm not exactly the target audience for this fluff, but the book showed up in our Little Library and when I saw it sitting there, I knew I had to read it. The reason is this: I have been curious about surf culture for most of my life and whenever I have seen people surfing I have thought, "That's amazing." This book did help satiate my curiosity about surfing, and I still think surfing is incredible, but the story about "bitchen" hormonal youth is too corny for old Connie.

Let's Not Go Sur
Jul 26, 2016 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So cute!
Jul 12, 2012 Xyra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who love the ocean, surfing, and historical fiction
I have been a Gidget fan for years and only now found out there was a book based on a real person's experiences to start it all. Now I am a bigger fan!
This is one of the very few books where I read the Introduction and Forward...usually if it is by another person (not the author) and not part of the story I skip this as I have found most to be dry literary criticisms. In this case, the intro was by the real Gidget, so I just had to read it! Boy, did I ever. And it was wonderful to hear the woman
Sep 11, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in the 1950s
I'm amazed at how much I liked this book. The new edition's forward by Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, who was the real-life Gidget, puts the story in perspective.

Kathy Kohner was a petite (less than 5 feet tall) perky Jewish girl who became obsessed with surfing back in the days before the Beach Boys started singing about it, before most of America had even heard of the sport. Her actual photo was used on the original book cover and again on the new edition. In the novel, Gidget remains a petite brune
Dec 18, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
The Little Bookworm

Franzie is a typical 16 year old girl. When she is one day rescued by a handsome surfer, Moondoggie, she decides she wants to learn how to surf. Made one of the gang by the local surfer boys who nickname her Gidget (girl-midget), she falls in love with Moondoggie and, most of all, with surfing.

Written in 1957, Gidget was written by Frederick Kohner for his daughter, Kathy. Based on her adventures with surfing, Gidget was the first book to deal with a girl learning to surf whic
Jan 31, 2011 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-read
When I was a kid my sister and I used to watch the TV show “Gidget” every day after school. It was sandwiched between something like “The Flintstones” and “Bewitched” on TBS or one of those cable channels that shows two-decade old reruns.

Being Minnesota teens of the 80s I can only surmise that our adoration of the show was all due to the perky charm of Sally Field. We really loved the show and when my sister got Gidget – The Complete Series on DVD for Christmas, we dove in with gusto. It’s still
Sep 08, 2015 Annette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Saw this in a used book store and had to read it!!
Loved the movie with Sandra Dee (was able to catch on tv growing up) and of course a girl that could hang-out and be one of the boys, yet have romance... what a great story!!!

A little bit "rougher" than the movie (she smokes, language is a bit more colorful) but the overall story-line is there (with intro and images from the real ""Gidget"). A fun, quick beach read that brought back young, summer memories.
Reading"Gidget is taking a trip back in time. This delightful little book was a joy to read. Many people will remember the movie(s)or the song but may not have read the story of this young girl. It is worth the quick read. It is a bit of book candy, sweet, light and fun. Using this as a theme for local luncheon, surf boards, sand, shells and playfulness will be all be included. Growing up isn't always without bumps for Gidget the Southern California surfer girl, but it is a "great ride". Enjoy h ...more
Jason Henderson
Nov 30, 2013 Jason Henderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I wanted to explore what it would be like to be part of the surf scene at the very start. This is a really enjoyable short novel (roughly 200 pages long) about a teenage girl named Franzie who talks the boys at Malibu circa 1956 into teaching her to surf. The gang on the beach are all intoxicatingly free-- Gidget (as they name her) tells us when you become one of the gang you have to swear off honest work, at least during the summer-- and sun-baked; underfed, too, so tha ...more
Good, fluffy, fun. A good sit-on-the-deck-in-the-sun read. I want to learn to surf now.

I kind of wish I had read this when I was fifteen. I would have found it fun, engaging, and not a little scandalous. Probably would have quite surprised me that my mom likes it so much. Gidget is impulsive and confident and independent, which is awesome, especially as she's based off a real person. However, she can be shockingly oblivious of the surfer guys' innuendos while at the same time being much more cur
Jan 17, 2015 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
very quick read - lots of lingo from the 1950s that sounds funny now. I used to watch the tv show and the movies and they were pretty close to the book. I liked it, glad I read it, but won't be keeping it. To the used book store it goes!
Laura (ローラ)
My sister and I love the movie... you know the real corny 1959 film starring Sandra Dee & James Darren. [p.s. who doesn't love a little James Darren? Cute & has a delicious voice!] I think it's great because it's so corny. I decided that it was time to finally read the novel that the movie was "loosely" based on. The story was charming and simple and so much fun to read. Plus it was ridiculously short, it only took me about an hour to finish.

All of the characters were so different from t
A cool snapshot of the time period (the '50s slang is hilarious) who knew Gidget was a real person?? Can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Jul 10, 2011 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, movie-link
From a linguistic point of view this book was very interesting; it was fun to try to figure out what she was saying in some places. Kohner does a good job of capturing the slang of the time. I also felt that the surfing scenes were very well done and conveyed why people become some obsessed. As others have mentioned it definitely is racier than the movies and TV show, and I guess that it was bothered me about it. By modern standards it still isn't that bad, but I found the fact that a father wro ...more
My Rory Gilmore selection for the YA Buccaneers Summer Reading Challenge. A quick read. I could hear Sandra Dee and Sally Field narrating.
Jul 21, 2015 Nanette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a teen. It is terribly funny how I forgot all of it except about her joy of surfing. All the stuff about her angst about sex and growing up made no impression on my young mind.
Sep 19, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, teens, classics
This was a cute, innocent, quick read that still managed to surprise me. I remember watching the television series and the movies when I was a teen and I absolutely flipped over them! (to use a Gidget term) It was fun to read the book and re-live the movies and series as I read about these familiar characters and scenarios. But what surprised me was the slightly less-than-innocent moments that never made it to Sally Field's scripts, such as bitchin' waves, drinking the occasional beer and smokin ...more
Kristin Bonacci
Aug 03, 2009 Kristin Bonacci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bitchen book. I picked this up at a surf shop, it's the story of the real Gidget. Her father, a screenwriter, turned her diary into this novel in 1957. (My copy is autographed by Gidget herself who is now close to 70.) Gidget, meaning girl midget, discovered Moondoggie and The Big Kahuna and other surf bums in Malibu and spent the next three summers hanging out with them and learned to surf board ride. The tv shows came after and cleaned up Gidget quite a bit. Some say this book is what started ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
Surprisingly progressive for its time, and intriguing as a prototype for modern-day young adult titles.
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Frederick Kohner, born Friedrich Kohner, was an Austrian-born novelist and screen writer, both in Germany and the US.

He is best known for having created the "Gidget" novels, which inspired a series of movies, two television series, three telemovies and a feature length animated film. He based the title character on his own daughter, Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman.
More about Frederick Kohner...

Other Books in the Series

Gidget series (8 books)
  • Cher Papa (Gidget series, #2)
  • Gidget Goes Hawaiian (Gidget series, #3)
  • Affairs of Gidget (Gidget series, #4)
  • Gidget Goes to Rome (Gidget series, #5)
  • Gidget In Love (Gidget series, #6)
  • Gidget goes Parisienne (Gidget series, #7)
  • Gidget Goes New York (Gidget series, #8)

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