On this page, I ranked the different series books that I had read up to that time. I suspected that Cherry Ames would get ranked a "1" like Vicki Barr. Now that I have read the series, I can report that I was correct. I rank Cherry Ames somewhere between Vicki Barr and Melody Lane on my list. For me personally, this is a below average series.
The Cherry Ames series has many fans but is not my type of series. The books are not bad, but they are not the kind of books that I greatly enjoy. The books are too sentimental and get hung up on great detail. I am not interested in nursing, so the detailed descriptions of nursing practices were not of interest to me.
It didn't help that I didn't like most of the people who are important to Cherry. I especially didn't like Dr. Joe or Midge. Midge outright annoyed me. I didn't even feel much for Cherry's family. I strongly disliked Cherry's first suitor, Lex. I also didn't like her second suitor, Wade. I only slightly liked most of her later suitors. Cherry's nursing friends were okay, but I didn't like them much, either.
Cherry doubts her abilities in book after book. It's logical in the first few books, but by volume 10, Cherry's lack of confidence is ridiculous. This is particularly jarring during the Julie Tatham books. I suspect that Tatham read the early Cherry Ames books and modeled her books after those.
I found Cherry's constant job-switching to be quite annoying by halfway through the series. I feel like the series would have been stronger if Cherry had stayed with a few of her jobs for more than one book. Cherry's nursing jobs all seem very important to her. If so, why does she abandon them so easily?
I noticed strange changes in the series towards the later books, and I have to question whether Helen Wells really did write all of the later books that were credited to her. The changes make Cherry Ames seem more like Nancy Drew.
Several higher-numbered books mention Cherry going to church. There is no reason to mention church anymore than there is reason to mention Cherry going to the bathroom. Most all series books never mention restroom needs, other than baths or showers. Even though series book characters don't use the bathroom, they do go to church, at least in some Grosset and Dunlap books of the 1960s. This is most prominent in the Nancy Drew series, so I was interested to see it appear in some Cherry Ames books.
When church is mentioned, it is usually just a single sentence, and it has nothing to do with the plot of the book. It's like mentioning church was a requirement of the books at that time, just like with the higher-numbered Nancy Drew books.
By #24, the series fell in line with the other Grosset and Dunlap books of the 1960s. I have to wonder how much editing was done on the books. #24 is eerily similar to other Grosset and Dunlap travelogue books of the 1960s. I would have thought that the book was a product of the Stratemeyer Syndicate if I didn't know better. #24 uses the word "swarthy" more than once. I don't recall this word from any earlier Cherry Ames books. Did an editor place "swarthy" in the book, or did someone other than Helen Wells write the book?
Here's what I thought of the books.
Greatly enjoyed and wouldn't mind reading again:
8. Visiting Nurse
9. Cruise Nurse
13. Clinic Nurse
14. Dude Ranch Nurse
15. Rest Home Nurse
17. Boarding School Nurse
22. Rural Nurse
Enjoyed but probably wouldn't read again:
1. Student Nurse
2. Senior Nurse
6. Veterans' Nurse
7. Private Duty Nurse
12. Mountaineer Nurse
16. Country Doctor's Nurse
18. Department Store Nurse
20. At Hilton Hospital
23. Staff Nurse
Did not enjoy:
3. Army Nurse
4. Chief Nurse
5. Flight Nurse
10. At Spencer
11. Night Supervisor
19. Camp Nurse
21. Island Nurse
24. Companion Nurse
25. Jungle Nurse
26. Mystery in the Doctor's Office
27. Ski Nurse Mystery
I see this series as divided into three parts: the early Helen Wells books, the Julie Tatham books, and the later Helen Wells books.
Early Helen Wells: #1-8
Julie Tatham: #9*-16
Later Helen Wells: #17-27
*#9 was credited to Wells but was written by Tatham.
Let's see if there's any pattern as to which books I liked the best.
Early Helen Wells: greatly enjoyed one book, enjoyed four books, and disliked three books
Julie Tatham: greatly enjoyed four books, enjoyed two books, and disliked two books
Later Helen Wells: greatly enjoyed two books, enjoyed three books, and disliked six books
My opinion is mixed for all parts of the series. It looks like Julie Tatham has the edge, although I didn't like all of her books. I definitely dislike the later books in the series the most.
I am going to sell a good many of the books in my set. I only bought these books to try, never expecting to like them greatly. My experience was about what I expected, although I did enjoy some books greatly. I plan to keep the books I enjoyed greatly plus some of the books I overall enjoyed. I will sell all of the books that I didn't enjoy.
Right after I finished writing the previous part of this post, I began reading Biff Brewster #2. I had tried reading Biff Brewster just before beginning Cherry Ames and found that I couldn't get interested in reading #1 again. I decided that since I didn't especially enjoy reading Cherry Ames that trying Biff Brewster again might actually work, as in I might be more receptive to the series than previously.
I noticed a great feeling of relief as I read Biff Brewster #2, and that feeling strengthened as I began reading Biff Brewster #3. I didn't enjoy every single part of the two books, but I enjoyed them far more than most of the Cherry Ames series. This made me realize how difficult it was for me to get through all of the Cherry Ames set, more so than I realized as I read the books.
In conclusion, most of the middle part of the Cherry Ames set, which includes some books by both Tatham and Wells, was a pleasure to read. The last part of the set was a bit torturous, and the first part of the set was also fairly difficult for me to enjoy. Now that I have moved on to another series, I have decided that I will likely sell most of my Cherry Ames books.