The Doris Diaries

“I tried to think uplifting thoughts, but (I must be truthful) ice cold lemonade and a book appealed to me more.”

—Doris Bailey, age 15, July 13, 1925

If that line didn’t suck you in, I don’t think I know you anymore.

Click to go to the website

I hate wasting book reviews explaining the book. I just want to tell you why I LOVED this book. But I guess some background is necessary. Here is the book’s description, taken from Amazon.

“It is July of 1925 when, on a whim, fifteen-year-old Doris Bailey decides to keep a diary-a place where she can openly confide her dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Doris is flirtatious, untamed, and romantic, imagining herself in and out of love with each passing day. In this first volume of Th e Doris Diaries, her great-niece, Julia Park Tracey, shares Doris’s journals capturing a year in the life of a precocious teenager in the rapidly changing world of the mid-1920s. Doris chats on the telephone and dances to records on the Victrola. Not only does she flirt, kiss, and ride in cars with boys, but she also sneaks out, cuts school, and chops off her hair. While Doris constantly pushes the boundaries of acceptable behavior for a young girl, she retells juicy gossip from St. Helen’s Hall, a military academy dance, and an Oregon dude ranch-sharing an unforgettable glimpse into a treasure trove of authentic American life in the Northwest. I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do, with commentary, footnotes, and photographs, presents an entertaining portrayal of an American girl brimming with curiosity, a zest for life, and a hunger to experience love for the first time.”


This book appeals to the book lover in me, the genealogist in me, the history lover in me, and the 15 year old girl I once was. If history is supposed to be a collection of stories, the stories Doris told to her diary is definitely history.

My favorite things about this book:

1. The rich, authentic language. I’m totally going to mug my husband later. Or is it mug “with” him? I don’t know, but I’m going to do it.

2. Doris is hilarious. She’s timeless. While her writing shows the history as it’s happening in her daily life, it also shows the very human struggles of a teenage girl. Clue: she likes whichever boy she’s with at the time. Unless she hates them all. They are such vulgar creatures after all.

3. From the multi-paragraph long entries of kissing a guy who “pretended like he was Rudolph Valentino” to the short little blurbs, each entry gives the reader something. This is a credit to the editor Julia Park Tracey.

Rudolph Valentino looking dead sexy

4. It’s fun. You can pick it up, turn to a page, and start reading. You may be confused about who she’s talking about but, honestly, I read the book straight through and needed a flow chart. Doris lived it up and had a wide circle of friends, which only added to the depth of the experiences.

5. The pictures are fantastic. Do you like old pictures? I have a whole album on FB on my old family pictures. I love them more than you can imagine. This book has many pictures and helped me connect to the people.

Oh, you’d like to see a picture of my grandparents from when they were dating? I happen to have one right here!

I am going to leave you with one last excerpt from the book. Doris had gone to a specific service station to see a specific service man. He seems to have been flirting with her and she couldn’t speak.

“I blushed like a little school-girl instead of being cooly sophisticated. Oh death, where is thy sting?”

Cooly sophisticated, indeed.

Ack! I love it! That line about mugging her husband is great. She reminds me of my great grandma, the way she talks. I can’t wait to read it!

Those quotes have totally sucked me in!! I can’t wait to add it to my pile!


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