Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Way Back Wednesday: What Did You Read As A Teen?

The other day there was an article floating around the Internet about what today's readers were reading when they were 13.  Though several people gave titles that suggested they were more mature than the average 13 year old of their time (like Clan of the Cave Bear), others were more down to earth and mentioned the Harry Potter and Sweet Valley High series.  I missed out on the conversation on Twitter so I thought I'd share with you what I read as a teen.

First published in 1982, My Sweet Audrina was the only VC Andrews' standalone book and I loved it.  Unlike anything I'd read before, it was the story of Audrina Adare, a fragile child with an unreliable memory.  There were all kinds of family secrets hidden from her and I just knew there were many more to discover, but since Andrews chose not to write a sequel, readers will never know what they were.

Just as fascinating to me were the Dollanganger children of the Flowers in the Attic series by Andrews.  I started reading the first two books because they were on my mother's shelf and Icouldn't wait for her to purchase the remainder of the set so I could find out what was going on with Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie and their demented grandmother.

Rosa Guy was the first author I read that spoke to me as an African American young adult. Set in New York in the late 70s/early 80s, Edith Jackson is the third in a trilogy that includes Ruby and The Friends. Each book in the trilogy could stand alone, so there's no need to read the first two to understand the third.  Though I read all three books, Edith Jackson is the one that really stayed with me.

The oldest of her deceased mother's five children, Edith is determined to keep her sisters together as they shuttle from one foster home to another. Recently settled in Peekskill, she believes she's found a good home for them. But when her sister Bessie starts sitting on their foster uncle's lap a little too long and her sister Minnie begins to spend time with a new friend, that happens to be white, Edith's world is thrown into turmoil.

Long before it became popular in the streets to refer to your girlfriend as wifey, there was Judy Blume's Wifey. As were most girls in the 70s and 80s, I was a huge Judy Blume fan. While most of her books at that time were strictly for the 13 and under crowd, Blume wrote a few that catered to the adult crowd. Did that stop eager teens from reading her adult lit? Heck no! I remember Wifey and Forever being passed around the 7th and 8th grade like the latest issue of Dynamite or Tiger Beat. I picked it up again while at my mother's over the Christmas holiday to see if it still had the wow factor.

Set in the fun-loving 70s, Wifey is the story of Jewish, suburban housewife, Sandy Pressman. Doing what her mother always told her to do, Sandy married a nice Jewish boy. The problem is ten years and two kids later, Sandy is bored. Her husband, Norman, is the king of the quickie; her lovable brats are off to summer camp; and at Norm's insistence, Sandy is being forced to take golf and tennis lessons at "the club." Just when she thinks her summer can't get any worse, she finds herself with a pervert in her backyard and on her phone.

While this book was hot stuff in the 70s, it's pretty tame by today's standards. There's a lot of wife swapping and extramarital affairs going on, with little mention of practicing safe sex or the possible results of not practicing safe sex. Most of what happened in the book was over my head when I read it 20 plus years ago. Reading it now makes me want to ask the main character, why did you settle? Why did you ever marry him? What a difference a few decades make.

So there you have it, a taste of what I read in my formative years.  How about you?  What books did you read as a teen that made enough of an impact for you to still remember them?

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