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Debutante Hill

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Louis Duncan's 1958 young adult classic tells the story of what happens when the debutante tradition comes to one small town: the parties, the ball gowns, as well as one girl's growing sense of right and wrong.

Lynn Chambers is popular, wealthy, and going (almost) steady with a handsome college boy. But when she decides not to be a debutante, Lynn finds herself on the outsi
Paperback, 200 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Lizzie Skurnick Books (first published 1957)
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3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  135 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Corinne Wilson
A 1958 reprint of a coming of age novel about a wealthy young girl who spends her senior year with her well-to-do "Hill" friends and waiting for letters from her handsome college boyfriend, until the tradition of debutantes descends on her small town and her father forbids her to participate. Lynn is suddenly aware of her peers in other social classes, and begins to form strong opinions about prejudices in her town and rethinks the relationships with everyone she's known all her life.

While a bi
Jennifer Gibbons
Huzzah! Lois Duncan's first novel is back in print, thanks to Lizzie Skurnick books! Duncan's regular readers might be surprised; no dead teachers make an appearance, no ghosts, no evil ghosts lurking about the fringes. However, something else is lurking: the structure of class, and the difference between haves and have nots.

Lynn Chambers is a girl of her times: she has good friends, an irritating little sister, a boyfriend who just went to college but she gets to wear his ring around her neck.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I was reading this, I was constantly reminded of NICE GIRL FROM GOOD HOME (Fran Arrick) which I had read first although it had been published much later. How many of you who have read both would agree?

What did I actually think of DEBUTANTE HILL? I liked it. It was interesting to read a nonthriller from a thriller author.

Thanks for reading.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: retro
I grew up on Lois Duncan’s horror books from the 80’s and 90’s, and have always been a big fan of hers. I’ve had Debutante Hill on my TBR list for a while now, and decided to finally read it after hearing of her recent passing.

I really enjoyed this first novel of hers. Written and set in the 1950’s, it was a nice look into the lives of teens and social classes of that time period. The characters all felt real, and even though the story was authentic to the 1950’s, the message of the book wasn’t
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1957, this was reprinted a few years ago. It's Duncan's first book, and she notes in a foreword that she originally wrote it as a short story: she turned it into a book after an editor told her that it was too much story for a short story. For readers who grew up with Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer, this is quite the change of pace. No murder, nothing supernatural...just a relatively quiet story about a girl from a 'good' family who must learn a lesson about class an ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Lynn Chambers is a bit excited that a debutante season has been arranged by the unfortunate Brenda's mother, especially since her beau, Paul Kingsley, is off to college. The parties will give her something to do during her senior year. Unfortunately, her father, who is a doctor who ministers to everyone in town, including the poor, tells her that she will NOT be going to the parties, because they will serve only to socially divide the town even further. This is a bummer, because all of her frien ...more
Oct 02, 2013 added it
In a time when people like to lampoon the dilemmas of well-off people with lists and hashtags like #richgirlproblems, Lizzie Skurnick Books re-issues Lois Duncan’s first novel about a wealthy girl whose eyes are opened to the class divides she’d never considered in her hometown. While she was somewhat aware of the stratified nature of her high school, the bigger implications of this don’t dawn on our heroine until she finds herself on the outside of the popular crowd. For this edition, Duncan (o ...more
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oh, gosh, I loved this. I am a sucker for malt shop books, and I was so excited when Lois Duncan's first novel got republished this fall by Lizzie Skurnick. Lynn is from the wealthy part of town and while all her friends are invited to be part of the town's first deb season, her father opposes it and doesn't want her to join. Her senior year changes drastically when all her friends are busy with their parties and she's left on her own to find new friends. It was so entirely 1958, but the core of ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, ya
Another in the Lizzie Skurnick series-this is the first book Lois Duncan ever wrote, and it's an impressive debut. Yes, totally dated, but the sort of thing I love.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lois Duncan's first novel. Clearly already trying to balance her own tendencies toward the violent and sordid with the genre expectations of '50s teen romance, though inclining toward the latter. I guess she got that out of her system (after The Middle Sister and the Joyce books), because she gave up that effort entirely a few years later. This reads like a Cleary or du Jardin with a dash more realism. The 2013 intro by the author almost makes up for the glut of OCR errors in the text.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book a few years ago when I was absolutely enthralled with the 1950's era, and looking to read anything from the time period I could get my hands on!!

I wish we had more books like this today!! It resonated with me and reminded me of times in my teen years when I didn't go along with the crowd, and how it was hard sometimes to be set apart, or the 'odd one out'. I had anticipated a completely different direction to the ending, and was pleasantly surprised when it ended how I h
Kristen Landon
Lois Duncan is my all-time fave, so when I found this on audio book I had to give it a try, even though I knew it would be different from most of her other books and very dated. It was. Dated. I wanted to scream at these characters at times. For example, the main girl is forbidden to be a debutante by her father, because it is snobbish. But then her older brother is allowed to go to the debutante parties with his girlfriend and no one says a thing! The main girl doesn't even have a single though ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lois Duncan's first book (reissued by Lizzie Skurnick Books) was such a fun reading experience. Dating in the 1950s sounded bizarre and confusing and I LOVED reading about it. There was a kind, helpful rich boy and a down-on-his-luck bad boy (named DIRK!) and they were both cute (duh). At one point, a character unironically said "see you in the funny papers." Now I want to read all of Lois Duncan's early works. I'm sad that Lizzie Skurnick Books isn't acquiring new titles anymore, but at least a ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I decided a while ago to read all of the Lizzie Skurnick Books titles, because Lizzie Skurnick has excellent taste and I love what she's doing, bringing back older YA books that have fallen out of print. This one, for example, was published in 1958. 1958! I didn't even know Lois Duncan was writing back then. I grew up loving her paranormal thrillers published in the 70s and 80s, and while this book contains no magic or psychic powers, it's every bit as good as those.

The themes in this book hold
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

Debutante Hill was the first book to be reissued by Lizzie Skurnick Books. Though Lois Duncan is best known to people of my generation and younger as a writer of teen thrillers, this book does not fall into that genre. Published in 1957, it is the story of high school senior Lynn Chambers who is at the center of the popular crowd of kids who live on the Hill. When it is announced that the mother of one of the less-popular girls has decided to
Amy Rae
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was torn between rating this three or four stars, but I think I'm going to go with four.

On the one hand--the three-star hand--the structure of this book is kind of disappointing. Duncan has the setup for a lot of class-based conflict in the arrival of a debutante tradition, but almost all discussion of it happens off-screen. She has the option of having Lynn make new, diverse-by-1957-standards friends (a Jewish girl and a Spanish Catholic girl are pretty different from the Hill's WASP-y in-cro
Jan 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
I loved reading this. I haven't read a ton of pre-80s teen fiction, and honestly it isn't that different? Except for what is being portrayed. And you always think that contemporary historical fiction (as in, historical fiction written now) is going to be pretty accurate, but there are some things in here that I feel could only have been captured by Lois Duncan at the moment she wrote this.

For instance: the parents, and how the father takes a stand and the mother supports it but they also kind o
it's only been a few days since I read this novel, but I've already forgotten most of what it was like to read. I think it was batty enough to be some fun (especially in the beginning before Lynn [possibly not even the correct name] realizes that it is no coincidence that the Hill (read: rich) kids are at the center of everything worth doing at old Calvin Coolidge High [most certainly not the correct name].

my expectations have been ruining my reading all year, but I just can't let them go. goin
Brittney Cloyd
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-ebook, fiction
Duncan's first novel does not contain the suspense and supernatural found in her later novels. It's a coming of age story about a girl who's not allowed to be a debutante with the rest of her friends. Despite their stilted conversations, the characters have some level of depth. The story was not predictable, though not particularly intriguing, either. It really bothered me that Lynn couldn't participate in the debutante activities but her brother could escort another debutante??? And the narrato ...more
This book is definitely a 1958 book. The language made me chuckle. VERY different from any Lois Duncan I've previously read. A sweet book, but not one that I'll re-read. It was a steal at amazon (might have even been free!), so it was worth it even if it cost a few dollars. I found it interesting to read about the kids on The Hill. There are still cliques like this. And there are still times when people manage to look outside of their cliques and see there are good people in other groups.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
YA fiction circa 1958. A young woman struggles with social issues when her father refuses to let her be a debutante in her senior year of high school. Lois Duncan's, author of I Know What You Did Last Summer, first novel.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so happy this book got a re-issue! It's always nice to read about teenager-dom in a more innocent time, with problems that are relatable but still reflect a different generation's values. I love the peek into what it would have been like to have been a teen in the 1950s and really appreciated Duncan's smartly-written characters and plot lines. Yay Lizzie Skurnick books - good choice for your first release!
Oct 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Preppy YA from the fifties - debs, cliques and going steady. Pretty cute witnessing the birth of a genre, and the birth of teenagerdom as we've come to know it. Not very memorable, but weirdly familiar and comforting.
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
A fun trip back in time.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see how in 1958 this book would have been considered slightly scandalous and thought provoking. For 2015, it's a cute tale, but still sheds light on class relations 50 + years ago.
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Found this at a library sale years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Glad this has been reissued (thanks Lizzie Skurnick!), so that others can discover it.
Kathy Harden
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of my favorite books from my Jr. High years and it is one of the few books I read more than once.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of the few Lois Duncans I had never read. How exciting it is back in print! Here is my review:
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Aug 01, 2014
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Lois Duncan (born Lois Duncan Steinmetz) was an American writer and novelist, known primarily for her books for children and young adults, in particular (and some times controversially considering her young readership) crime thrillers. Duncan's parents were the noted magazine photographers Lois Steinmetz and Joseph Janney Steinmetz. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Saraso ...more