Fifteen is a juvenile fiction novel written by Beverly Cleary. It was first published in 1956. It chronicles the perspective of a teenage girl entering her first romantic relationship. The book captures the innocent spirit of life in the 1950s, both through the playfully light storyline and the casual references to convertibles, sweaters, "meeting boys", and soda shops. Regardless, the book remains in print today because its overall theme of difficult adolescent feelings still connects with young readers.
Jane Purdy is a 15-year-old student at Woodmont High School in California. She dreams of having a boyfriend like blonde, popular, and sophisticated 16-year-old Marcy Stokes has. Jane feels somewhat left out of social circles at her high school, and envies the more popular girls who go out on dates, seem more confident and wear more expensive clothes.
One day while babysitting, she meets 16-year-old Stan Crandall, who is a delivery boy for a pet-food store. Jane is immediately attracted to Stan, although she does not believe that he will be attracted to her as she forgets to pretend to be sophisticated during their brief encounter. However, Stan calls her later, and asks her out on a date. Later, after school begins, Jane discovers that Stan has another date to the first school dance. Jane is extremely upset but it turns out that Stan asked Bitsy to the dance before he met Jane and he feels he cannot break the date now even though he is not attracted to Bitsy.
Jane and Stan's relationship fluctuates throughout the book. Jane constantly analyses her status with Stan, worrying about whether she's ready to date someone without scaring him off. After another outing, Jane takes Stan's unusually quiet and detached behavior as a sign that he's tired of her, but later she learns that he is sick with appendicitis.
In the end, Stan reassures Jane that she's his girlfriend, and gives her his ID bracelet as a symbol that they are going steady.
Jane Purdy: Jane is the 15-year-old protagonist in Fifteen. She is a brunette with curly hair, which she finds childish compared to Marcy's blonde hair, and a pretty but small wardrobe with only one cashmere sweater. She is happy and surprised to meet Stanley Crandall and start a relationship with him. She constantly worries about her relationship. Jane gets her money by babysitting. She describes herself as an ordinary girl with nothing special. She doesn't like Marcy but is friends with Greg. While dating Stan, she has become much more popular and has vowed to be more confident. Jane is a sophomore at her high school.
Stanley "Stan" Crandall: Stan is a handsome 16-year-old who works at the Doggie Diner, a pet-food delivery shop. He had recently moved to Woodmont and soon starts a relationship with Jane, and tells her he thinks she's different from most girls. Their relationship is strained for a short period of time, but in the end, he assures her that everything is all right, before kissing her. Stan has brown hair, green eyes, a tan, and is described as good looking and friendly. He's a junior at his high school.
Julie: Julie is Jane's best friend. She has freckles on her face and it's hinted that she may be overweight, as she has a hard time dieting and often tries to wear clothes that make her look thinner. She goes to the dance with Buzz, starting a possible relationship. She's also a sophomore and 15 years old like Jane.
Marcy Stokes: Marcy is 16 years old and the ultimate "guys girl" or as Jane puts it "the cashmere sweater type" (the latest high school trend at their school). She has blonde hair which she always tosses in front of boys, and Jane to make her feel uncomfortable, as well as a stylish wardrobe with several cashmere sweaters. Marcy likes to make Jane feel little and takes any chance to embarrass her. Although she is dating Greg, she is jealous of Jane's relationship with Stan.
Buzz Bratton: Buzz is an inch shorter than Jane and Julie, even though he is a junior and 16 years old. He likes Jane and even kisses her, upsetting Stan. When Jane and Buzz were in middle school, he would tackle her and steal the dishes she would prepare in cooking class and take home for her folks to taste. He is very reluctant about his relationship with Julie, possibly because he likes Jane not Julie.
Gregory "Greg" Donahoe: He's 16 years old and Marcy's boyfriend. He seems to be good friends with Jane and Stan.
Mr. Purdy He is Jane's father. He is two years younger than his wife. He enjoys his begonia garden and his cat. Jane dislikes how he tries to joke and talk too much, especially around Stan.
Mrs. Purdy: She is Jane's 40-year-old mother and extremely overprotective. Jane dislikes how she never wears stockings on her bare legs.
Mr. Nibley: Mr. Nibley is the owner of the popular Nibley's Ice Cream Parlor. He thinks Jane is 11 years old.
Betsy "Bitsy": She's Stan's former girlfriend who is short and makes fun of Stan's job.
Sandra Norton: Is 8 years old and the brattiest girl in all of Woodmont. She has a mother who pays lots of money when people babysit her monster child. Sandra and her family are from France, and she likes Julie better than Jane.
George: He has a major crush on Jane. He is two inches shorter than Jane. He's 15 years old and a sophomore. George carries his money in a purse, is obsessed with science and is about as romantic as a math test.
Tom: Tom is Stan's friend from his old school. He works in Chinatown.