Monday, October 15, 2018

Book review -- Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss

Book Summary
Every twenty- or thirty-something woman knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence. Spurred by the commercial success of Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, these were not the serious-issue YA novels of the 1970s, nor were they the blockbuster books of the Harry Potter and Twilight ilk. They were cheap, short, and utterly beloved.

PAPERBACK CRUSH dives in deep to this golden age with affection, history, and a little bit of snark. Readers will discover (and fondly remember) girl-centric series on everything from correspondence (Pen Pals and Dear Diary) to sports (The Pink Parrots, Cheerleaders, and The Gymnasts) to a newspaper at an all-girls Orthodox Jewish middle school (The B.Y. Times) to a literal teen angel (Teen Angels: Heaven Can Wait, where an enterprising guardian angel named Cisco has to earn her wings “by helping the world’s sexist rock star.”) Some were blatant ripoffs of the successful series (looking at you, Sleepover Friends and The Girls of Canby Hall), some were sick-lit tearjerkers à la Love Story (Abby, My Love) and some were just plain perplexing (Uncle Vampire??) But all of them represent that time gone by of girl-power and endless sessions of sustained silent reading.

In six hilarious chapters (Friendship, Love, School, Family, Jobs, Terror, and Tragedy), Bustle Features Editor Gabrielle Moss takes the reader on a nostalgic tour of teen book covers of yore, digging deep into the history of the genre as well as the stories behind the best-known series.

Flo's Review
This book was just completely fun. I knew from the second that I read about it that I would adore it -- and I did. Reading this was basically a trip back into my childhood, and I enjoyed every second of the journey. I got to see familiar and expected old friends like Sweet Valley High (and Twins...and University) and the Babysitters Club. But I also got to see familiar titles that I'd forgotten about until I saw them in this volume and remembered reading and loving them. For example: Pen Pals. I was all over that series. And the book Megan the Klutz? Had it. And remember The Fabulous Five? See, I bet you didn't until you just now read my last sentence! That's what this book was like for me.

The author kept reiterating the same point though: these books weren't diverse, these books weren't diverse, oh-- and guess what? These books weren't diverse! Yes, we know. I feel like she could have just mentioned that in the introduction and that would have been enough, instead of mentioning this observation, like, every single chapter. 

Hubby mentioned that boy books weren't really covered in this one, and I think it would be interesting to see that perspective in another volume. Because, honestly? I bet I would have read a lot of those, too. 

Overall, Paperback Crush brought me lots of smiles and nostalgia for a time where I loving reading and devouring basically anything I could get my hands on. Wait. That's pretty much now, too. But, oh what a fun blast to the past this was!

Thank you to Quirk Books for providing me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

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