Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction
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.
I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it! I have been a reader my whole life, and I read so many middle grade and ‘YA’ books written during the 1980s and 90s (I was especially into The Baby-Sitters Club series). This book’s description and cover definitely caught my attention!
This was a very fun, quick read. I loved the layout of the book and oh my gosh, did it ever call up some nostalgia! There were books mentioned (and sometimes shown) in Paperback Crush that I had completely forgotten about until I saw the title (or cover) in this book. There were so many books that I felt like tracking down to reread!
It was interesting to read about the trends in books for young readers during this time period because as a kid reading whatever grabbed my attention, I certainly wasn’t aware of the publishing trends, so I liked getting a bit of insight into that and realizing that I’ve been a middle grade and YA horror fan for nearly my entire reading life (Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Mary Downing Hahn were early favourites).
I was expecting some sort of conclusion so I felt like the book ended pretty abruptly, and at times I wish it had been more in-depth, but overall I came away from this book with a smile and an urge to look up some old favourites!