By: Gabrielle Moss
Feeling a little nostalgic for non-fiction November I decided to read Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of 80’s and 90’s Teen Fiction and wound up having quiet the little trip down memory lane. This is actually one of two books I’ve read that said Jessica Wakefield (my fav from Sweet Valley High) was a sociopath.
Honestly it doesn’t surprise me a bit.
Looking back I always say that the three big childhood reading things I remember: The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High and Stephen King (which yeah he’d probably stand out.) My mother says I read everything I could get my hands on but yeah, those three stuck so it was weird to read through this book and see the pictures especially and boom! It just all came back.
I also remember reading all the Christopher Pike “thrillers.” And must face the honest fact that I would never pick up these books today or I would look at them with my nose upturned and be like, “Ew who would read that?”
Well, I did once upon a time!
Could one even find a phone booth these days to hide from a crazy stalker?Not in my area.
Paperback Crush is divided into sections covering things like school, hobbies and hot button issues. We’ve never not been problematic- even before it was popular to label everything as such. Some of this stuff would make peoples heads spin these days.
It’s quick but it’s actually pretty informative and Moss keeps it fun. She also searches and finds examples of diversity and talks to those authors about their experiences. And there’s little asides like how the covers were put together. Baby Kirsten Dunst is on a Babysitter Club cover!
It was also a little sad to learn how cynically some of these books were put together. A great deal of them churned out in cycles. Ah, I remember them with rose-colored glasses.
Even though this stopped at the nineties I think it’s still pretty easy to see how it shaped the YA and New Adult novels we get now. For better and worse.
And Jessica wasn’t a sociopath! She was just… spirited and a little spoiled. Yeah, let’s go with that. 🙂 If I ever have kids totally buying them both series.
18 thoughts on “Reading Down Memory Lane”
Ha ha, King also features my childhood memories. I still remember reading The Shining and being scared out of my mind… my mum thought I read Austen of course and could not comprehend why I found it hard to fall asleep! 😂
It’s a funny hint re. “Leaving home” and today’s YA fiction he he. There’s definitely a connection there!
The book sounds interesting, being 80’s child myself it could be a really fun trip down the memory lane. 😊
I haven’t read the Shining yet but yeah that would freak me out! I did go through Carrie, Christine , Pet Cemetery, Tommyknockers and the Stand when I was young which always amazes my boyfriend whose like you read those but never a Goosebumps book? It was fun though!
You’ve got a very nice collection there! And he he, there’s always one book that somehow never gets read! 🙂
I love looking back at favorite books from my childhood (most which I would never read now haha). Although… yeah I wouldn’t necessarily NOT read them either- I mean they shape who we became as readers I guess. And it’s nice this book takes a look back at some of the popular series that so many people read. Looks fun!
I’m sure Jessica was just misunderstood. 🙂 It was the EIGHTIES after all…
I love that cover of Die Softly! lol
Pike’s books and the rest of the 90’s covers… they were special!
I have an entire box of all of my Sweet Valley High books in the attic. I was obsessed! I never really thought that about Jessica but I’ll have to go back and give them a second read. I recently read the Sweet Valley High Confidential ten years later and was a little underwhelmed but I think it would be fun to go back and read them. Great read and recommendation! Thanks! 🙂
I want to reread and see how bad Jessica really was/wasn’t. Maybe start a defense or something 🙂 I’ll have to check out that Confidential book!
Great Review! Your review takes me down memory lane too. I used to LOVE the Babysitter’s club books <3 I probably owned 20 of them 😀
Thanks 🙂 That was a great series and I mean you could make the argument it taught us about responsibility and building a business at young ages!
hehe *wow* at the clothes and the covers!!
Omg this book looks amazing! I loved the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High – I also read a few Point Horror books (remember those?) And yeah, Jessica was totally cool (WAY better than boring Liz) and not at all sociopathic!
Right? Sociopath is such a strong damned word! 😉 She totally made those books!
I need to read this book. It’s like my childhood between two cardboard covers!!
Right? It pretty much summed everything up (minus my King obsession!)
I haven’t read any of these!(sorry!) But I intend to because now I am excited to find out more!
OMG The Babysitters Club, I think we were all obsessed but I can’t remember any of the characters! Sweet Valley High looks cheap, fun and fast and I like the sound of that. I don’t know if I’ll like Elizabeth, but I can see myself enjoying reading about her. Have to add it to my TBR!
In some ways I think Sweet Valley is the precursor to shows like Gossip Girl, etc. Though I fear its also going to be pretty dated. Have fun reading!
The precursor to Gossip Girl? Double sold. So much drama, I love the sound of it. 🤭