Airiz C's Reviews > Daddy-Long-Legs

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
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's review
Aug 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: books-from-childhood, humor, inspirational, romance, young-adult
Read in August, 2011

I first encountered Jerusha “Judy” Abbot when I was but a wee schoolgirl, back when local morning cartoon shows were more educational and thought-provoking than the ones of today. My Daddy Long Legs (Eng. dub) was a part of the Tagalized “World Masterpiece Theater” or the Japanese 90’s cartoon staple based on literary classics.

This book is about Judy, a seventeen-year-old orphan brought up in John Grier Home. By some leap of fate, after penning a hilarious essay about the institute, Judy was chosen to be a scholar to an exclusive girl’s college. A mysterious benefactor will provide anything she needs, and all she has to do in return is to write him letters once a month.

I did not expect the TV adaptation to be so faithful to the source material. However, since this is an epistolary novel (letters as mini-chapters of some sort), it contains fewer details when compared to the show. While I enjoyed this book, I think that it was more alive in my mind only because I’ve seen the TV series before. It’s like the show became some sort of a visual aid, you know? There were images—screencaps, literally—that flew to my head while reading a few paragraphs that seem a tad too plain to weave a concrete picture.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked this a lot. I know that when you read letters, you don’t expect the writer of that letter to describe every minute detail that happens in her quotidian life. Webster has to make it sound like a genuine letter from a simple, peachy keen character; she's successful in doing just that, but a large chunk of her author voice was chipped off. I'm pretty sure Webster is aware of that as well.

Which brings us to characterization, where I think Wesbter focused on, even if it's of only one person. The only character that is fully developed is of course Judy herself, apparent in her writings. That is quite expected because we only meet the other characters in secondhand accounts, the stories Judy is telling her Daddy Long Legs. What the readers get is just a set of cardboard cutouts of supporting character caricatures. There's not enough wiggle room for fleshing out the others because of the chosen format so Webster gave all her best to make Judy a fully-realized and unforgettable heroine. It's fun to see Judy grow up and learn things, yet maintain her sense of independence and strong will. I commend Webster for making Judy’s growth as beautiful as a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon. It makes this a bildungsroman worth reading. In the end Judy emerges as a strong heroine that is a Pollyannaish version of Jo March (from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott). :)

Overall, it’s a very fun read. A few issues about feminism, education, and relationships are touched as well, and with Judy’s voice speaking about them, every philosophy is delivered through an optimistic literary subwoofer that will surely reach the readers.

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message 1: by Janina (new) - added it

Janina Ohh! I remember the anime! I loved it very much! I must read this one.

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