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September 16, 2004

YA Fiction

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A couple of months ago, in a posting about the creation of the American teenager, I cited a lot evidence for the idea that teenagerhood as we know it today -- a self-contained, desirable/traumatic period in life that's also an enormous target market -- is, by and large, a post-WWII American creation. Some examples: the word "teenager" didn't appear in dictionaries until 1942; teen magazines, rock and roll (ie., music for teens), and movies for teens all made their first appearance in the 1950s.

It turns out that I overlooked another juicy piece of evidence: YA, or "young adult," fiction. Frances Fitzgerald, of all people, has a good essay in the September issue of Harper's magazine about the history and culture of YA fiction. Since the piece isn't online -- curses! -- I'll summarize some of what Fitzgerald says.

  • YA fiction isn't just fiction for young people, of which there's often been a fair amount. It's fiction about teen experience that is portrayed from a teen point of view. It's S.E. Hinton, Judy Blume, and Robert Cormier, and not "The Yearling" or "Count of Monte Cristo."

  • YA fiction is largely an American phenomenon.

  • Most of the storylines in YA fiction have taken the form of problem stories. A typical YA book might well have a therapy-esque, coming-of-age narrative that centers on struggling with and overcoming an "issue" -- delinquency, drug addiction, distant parents ...

  • In America, novels for kids began appearing in the mid-19th century: think Horatio Alger, or "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm." These books were most often about kids having adventures and then growing up into responsible adults.

  • In the 1920s, a new strain of fiction for kids began appearing: "idealized realism," with childhood portrayed as a happy, protected period.

  • This theme lasted through the early 1960s. "Two decades after 'the teenager' became a distinct species and well after Hollywood had discovered juvenile delinquency ... most novels for teens still clove to the idealist mode of kids growing up in safe, nurturing families to become fine, upstanding members of their close-knit communities," writes Fitzgerald.

  • The appeal of this kind of book began to crumble in the 1950s under the influence of Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, and Louise ("Harriet the Spy") Fitzhugh.

  • YA fiction's big bang, though, didn't take place until 1967 and 1968, when S.E. Hinton published "The Outsiders," Robert Lipsyte published "The Contender," and Paul Zindel published "The Pigman."

  • A major factor in the success of YA fiction was Title II of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which "poured money into [schools'] empty libraries, permitting publishers to reissue the older classics and to publish a host of new novels for adolescents, almost all of which were in the new realist mode."

  • You might not expect this, but librarians by and large -- and especially librarians who were young in the 1960s -- have always been cheerleaders for YA fiction. They approved of its "relevance" and "subversiveness," and have treated the genre as a kind of progressive political cause.

  • Title II money dried up in the 1980s, a decade when America was getting malled and the book industry was getting chain-stored.

  • By the early 1990s, YA fiction wasn't selling very well. But librarians rallied, demographics changed, and by the mid-1990s teens were again buying YA novels. Today, as many as 600-700 YA novels are published every year.

  • Although the problem-story template is still pretty popular with the YA audience, the problems the novels' protagonists struggle with have changed since the glory days of the '60s and '70s. Gayness is no longer a big deal, for example: gayboys are more likely to advise the heroine about her romantic travails than they are to die despairing in a car crash, for instance. Meanwhile, the problems protagonists face at home have gotten much more dramatic. Incest and child abuse are popular "issues" now, and the novels' villain is often mom's second hubby.

  • But today's most popular YA novels aren't the problem stories beloved by Boomers and librarians. The most popular subgenre today is chicklit "about girls with snarky attitudes and great clothes," writes Fitzgerald. "These girls have their problems ... but these problems have a way of disappearing when our heroine takes a trip to Europe."

How ... well, interesting to learn that YA fiction is partly the creation of '60s Great Society legislation.

My general thought? It seems to me that we've been running a gigantic social experiment. Since World War II, we've created so much teencentric culture that teenagehood has become a world unto itself. What are the consequences of spending multiple generations catering aggressively to teen tastes, teen hormones, teen bodies, teen emotions, and teen brains going to prove to be? Raised on teencult that was scrappy and patchy, Boomers are already famous for their attachment to their teen years; they're forever reliving adolescence. But post-Boomers are growing up with teencult that's both much more pervasive and far more expertly-produced. Will anyone be surprised if post-Boomers have an even harder time than Boomers leaving their teen selves behind? And what are cultural projects of the post-Boomers going to be like? I'm betting that the post-Boomers will do their best to overhaul the general culture in the image of the teenculture they've spent adolescence addicted to.

Francis' posting below has got me wondering if America's teencentric-ness might not help explain why so many Americans find France such a revelation, as well as such a sexy place. Perhaps it's partly because the French point of view on pleasure and sex is an adult, and not an adolescent, one.

I didn't grow up reading any of these books. Were any you fans or addicts? Out of curiosity a few years ago, I did read V.C. Andrews' "Flowers in the Attic," and enjoyed it a lot. It's operatic pop-Poe, and quite sexy and exciting. But that's my entire reading experience of YA fiction.

I notice here that the National Book Foundation is going to give YA immortal Judy Blume an honorary award for her contributions to American letters.

Here's the website of the Michael L. Printz Award, given yearly by the American Library Association to the author of a YA novel. I love the description of the 2004 winner, Angela Johnson's "The First Part Last":

An extraordinary work in which the realities of fatherhood come slowly but surely to 16 year-old Bobby after the birth of his daughter, Feather. Told in alternating chapters, Johnson's story reveals the love Bobby and his girlfriend Nia shared then, as well as the growing affection Bobby feels now for his daughter.

Harper's Magazine's not-very-generous website is here.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at September 16, 2004




Comments

Not to mention that the title of Maier's book is a parody of the French coming-of-age classic, BONJOUR TRISTESSE, by Francoise Sagan (sorry about loss of cedilla). Another French classic for young people is Alain-Fournier's THE WANDERER.
This must be children's book week. Bank Street College of Ed bookstore is hiring again; so are Kirchoff and Wohlberg publishers. And School Library Journal had its annual boat outing yesterday!
Forwarding your observations to my friend who teaches children's lit at Texas A&M, for comment. There are very few places in the US where you can get a PhD in children's lit, such as she has: Bloomington is one of them.
I made it through lots of things like Catcher in the Rye, the Beany Malone and Caddie Woodlawn books, Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, and Nancy Drew...of the modern ilk I think only things like Charlotte's Web and the Phantom Tollbooth really hold up...
But I always preferred the older ones such as Peter Pan, Peterkin Papers, Little Minister, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and Kidnapped, Children of the New Forest, Booth Tarkington, E. Nesbit, the Alcott books, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, the Prince and the Pauper, and 5 Little Peppers and How they Grew. Liked the Hobbit but never got too much into Tolkien's cycle, and Lewis' Narnia (You may have seen the TV program about CS Lewis and Freud the other night?)
Really, I think, after you've read the best children's books you could get by with never reading anything else!
My top contenders would be:
Wind in the Willows
Secret Garden, Little Princess (Little Lord Fauntleroy is good, but not AS good)
Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass
Heidi
Wizard of Oz et al.

Posted by: winifer skattebol on September 16, 2004 1:59 PM



I loved Young adult books when I was in the 11-17 age group. My library was well stocked and I read everyone I could find that looked decent. Besides Judy Blume and the others you mentioned, there was "A Hero Ain't Nothing But A Sandwich" which I thought had a great title, but the story wasn't good. "Me the Flunkie" which was hysterical, "The Room", "Headman" by S.E. Hinton (I think), and a few others I can't recall at the moment.

As far as being progressive thinking manuals, I could tell when they were going a bit over the top, but I loved them all the same.

Posted by: Brendan on September 16, 2004 2:05 PM



I read a lot of traditional children's lit too, but the YA thing slipped by me entirely. I was probably a few years too old for it already, to be honest. I do remember slightly younger kids flipping for some YA books. But when you're a kid and you've moved on into a different phase, you really leave the prior one behind.

Oh, now that you mention it, out of curiosity and as an adult I also read a Judy Blume and a couple of Norma Kleins. Enjoyed 'em! Seemed exactly like what a 13 year old girl would want to read about and be told -- a little neurotic and edgy, a little sexy, but very reassuring. The Wife was a big fan of S.E. Hinton's, but in a campy kind of way. I think she genuinely loved the books, but found it a hoot that teen traumas were being taken so seriously at the same time.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 16, 2004 2:57 PM



Something that puzzled me about Fitzgerald's piece was that she and her experts don't seem to consider "Catcher in the Rye" to be YA. They don't even seem to think of it as a precursor. Yet doesn't it qualify? Teen experience, teen p-o-v, after all. Maybe it doesn't qualify because at the time it was written it was meant more for an adult audience? But I'm really not sure. Does anyone have any hunches about this?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 16, 2004 3:02 PM



Reading assignments for my sophomore English class were: Black Boy, A Separate Peace, and The Chocolate War. Lord, but those books were terrible! Then we were given free reign to do an art project that tied the three books together along their "coming of age" and "religious symbolism" lines. One group made a music video to share with the class. Another group baked a cake in the shape of a cross and decorated it with words like "Peer Pressure," and "Individuality," and a border of thorns and roses

I wish I were making this up. (I was further dismayed when I learned that the private school in the next town over taught these books to fifth graders.)

I swear to God I'm not having kids until we have the resources to homeschool them.

There might be plenty of good YA fiction out there, but why do they have to teach it in High School? I guess my point is, isn't it strange that our "youth-centric" culture actively educates "young adult" values into the population it is preparing for adulthood? As if the pop culture marketing juggernaut didn't do enough of this already.

Posted by: Nate on September 16, 2004 4:06 PM



Because adulthood is bad and teenagehood is good, I guess.

Those are hilarious stories. Good god, what we get subjected to in school.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 16, 2004 4:57 PM



nate: "There might be plenty of good YA fiction out there, but why do they have to teach it in High School?"

That seems a really important question to me. To my mind, juveniles are specifically designed to convince younger readers to read them on their own. I don't see the value of having a teacher guide students through such material.

I've always thought that a major part of the job of a good teacher is to show the value (enjoyment, satisfaction, depth, etc.) of more difficult material. What's next, "An epistemological examination of Tom Swift and the Hardy Boys"?

I think I'm coming to a different view of the changes in teen culture through the middle of the last century than Michael's. As I see it, the juveniles of the early century presented canned dilemmas with relatively trivial correct answers. The Tom Swift books (first series started in 1910!) and Hardy Boys books (series started in 1926) mentioned above seem to me to be examples of this style of book.

As the century continued, the problems faced by the protagonists of juveniles became more realistic and much harder to resolve cleanly. For examples of well-written juveniles of the '50s and '60s, see Robert Heinlein's novels(e.g., Podkayne of Mars or Have Spacesuit Will Travel).

My knowledge of juveniles written after the late '60s is pretty sketchy, but what I've seen tends to contain much better writing than the earlier stuff. The characters are much more fully realized, the dialog is much more believable, the situations are much more realistic.

In the more insular world before television, I think there was more to be said for a stereotyped or iconic presentation for naive readers, if only to provide a base for later variation -- sort of a cultural grounding. It's difficult to allude to stereotypes if your audience has never actually seen the stereotype.

It seems to me that now the role of juvenile fiction in providing a common cultural background has probably been overtaken by television. But then I've long thought that much of the change in style between 19th century novels and later novels was a result of the influence of movies and television.

Specifically, a novelist can now merely mention "Paris cafe" for instance, and a picture comes immediately to the mind of nearly any reader as a result of seeing iconic Paris cafes in dozens of movies and TV shows. In the 19th century, most of the audience would have had no idea what the novelist might have meant without a relatively full description. Hence the pages of detail explicitly describing the environment in most novels of the earlier period.

My, that was longer than I originally intended.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on September 16, 2004 7:35 PM



Here are reviews of a couple of my friend’s books…what think ye Blowhards? Well-crafted as they may be, don’t you wish “gender studies” had never been invented? It’s not HER fault, however; it’s the prevailing ballyhoo of the times, and otherwise she wouldn’t get published in academic circles.

Claudia Nelson
The Economy of Fatherhood: Paternal Roles in American Adoption Texts, 1850-1924

It has become conventional for historians to speak of the 'decline' of fatherhood in late-nineteenth-century America, arguing that men were becoming invisible in the home as they were defined more and more in terms of their role as economic provider and less and less in terms of their emotional function. Writings having to do with adoption and foster care in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, suggest that while many commentators accepted the idea that a father was little more than the sum of his paychecks, many others did not. Fiction and nonfiction texts alike often reflect the common mid-Victorian idea that the father was in charge of 'values governing work, achievement, and property,' in Anthony Rotundo's phrase--but they turn this insight into the basis for representations of fatherhood as varied as they are positive. Within the literature of adoption, at least, fatherhood is frequently described as a crucial source of emotional strength for parent and child alike, and this emotional strength is shown as intimately connected with economic and class concerns, not conflicting with them as the Cult of Domesticity might seem to dictate. Fathers in these texts are neither villains, absences, nor mothers in drag, the three possibilities often delineated by today's scholars of American family life during this period. Rather, they have special and productive roles of their own, a circumstance that calls out for further investigation.


Review of

Claudia Nelson, Boys Will Be Girls: The Feminine Ethic and British Children's Fiction, 1857-1917. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1991. Pp. xiv + 215. $27.

(1) According to Claudia Nelson, mid-Victorian fiction addressed to children, especially to boys, inculcated a complex of moral attributes that she calls "femininist" (not to be confused with "feminist"), traits usually associated with nineteenth-century women and specifically with the stereotypical "Angel in the House": for example, deference to (male) authority, self-effacement, patience in the face of pain and suffering, "wise passiveness," religious faith, and (not least) asexuality. She points out that, not coincidentally, these characteristics were also prominent features in what the mid-Victorians termed "manliness," which was essentially the same as "womanliness" (hence her frequent use of the word "androgyny") but squarely at odds with assertive, striving, relentlessly (hetero)sexual "maleness" or masculinity. Far from being a dispirited victim, then, the Angel was a powerful subversive force "undermining the precepts of aggression, selfishness, and competition upon which the male world depended," "a weapon for deconstructing the dominant male ideology--not only among women but among men" (p. 4). For a variety of reasons discussed by Nelson, this subtle yet pervasive and potent "mechanism gradually stopped working" (p. 5) toward the end of the nineteenth century, but strong vestiges of it survived on into the Edwardian and early Georgian periods.
{2} After a brief introduction and a preliminary chapter devoted to "Forerunners, Femininism, and Girls' Books," Nelson traces the transformation of the "social ideal" of "asexuality" into the "social ideal" of "virility"--a movement away from the values associated with femininism and manliness and toward a scorn of effeminacy and an exaltation of masculinity--as the evangelical Christian emphasis on the salvation of the individual gave way before the post-Darwinian biological emphasis on the propagation and survival of the species. Her test case in this second chapter is Thomas Hughes's Tom Brown's School Days (1857), "one of the classic texts of androgyny, [femininist] `influence,' and manliness" (p. 40), which she reads as the story of Tom's development toward the then-prevalent social ideal under the tutelage of his sickly, saintly schoolmate, George Arthur. But even in 1857 the sexologist William Acton looked with suspicion on the type of the "puny exotic" (qtd. on p. 52) exemplified by Arthur, and by the end of the century "George Arthur, whom a more naive generation had held up as a saint, turns out to be a sodomite": Krafft-Ebing's "typical homosexual," "the Angel in the House" transformed "into the Degenerate in the Closet" (pp. 52 and 53).
{3} The remaining four chapters of Boys Will Be Girls examine, respectively, boys'-school stories, historical novels, adventure tales, and works of fantasy. In each of these distinct but often interrelated kinds of fiction produced during the six decades following the publication of Hughes's first novel, Nelson finds the same recurring pattern: a gradual rejection of the Angel--who, however, never totally disappears. In "the adventure novel," for instance, she "may be defeated or she may lurk in the shadows, but she is never absent" (p. 118). Nelson's applications of her paradigms are unfailingly flexible and sensitive, taking due account of the differences among these subgenres of children's literature and the forces impinging on them. Her book concludes with a handy "Biographical Appendix of Children's Authors," which provides succinct lives of forty-three authors featured in the body of the text.
{4} Boys Will Be Girls displays many strengths. It is, first of all, exceptionally well written: lucid, lively, sometimes epigrammatic, never clotted with jargon. It is also the outgrowth of an impressive fund of knowledge of adult as well as children's literature and a variety of relevant non-"literary" fields--learning that Nelson wears gracefully and marshals skillfully. "Theory," about which Nelson seems to be well informed, is her handmaiden, not her mistress. Her many readings of individual novels, which range from the forgotten to the still famous (e.g., The Water-Babies, Treasure Island, The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan), are perceptive and persuasive. The dust jacket claim regarding the importance of "the implications of her discoveries for feminist scholarship" is, for once, not mere promotional hyperbole.
{5} That Nelson's approach does raise methodological questions is largely a consequence of our current obsession with gender in the study of literature. If it were possible to rid ourselves of the notion that certain human attributes are essentially feminine and certain others essentially masculine, we might be able to avoid the linguistic contortions we have to go through in order to represent the fact that both kinds of traits coexist in fictional as well as in "real-life" characters of both sexes. Of course such "gendering of virtue" is nothing new: the Victorians, too, indulged heavily in it, and Thomas Hughes in particular had to spend much of his career trying to extricate himself from the corner he had painted himself into by his use of the unfortunate because potentially misleading term "manliness."
{6} Nelson's frequent use of "evangelicalism" as a virtual synonym for androgyny or femininism is similarly unfortunate. As the term is commonly understood, nineteenth-century evangelicalism was the engine that drove the masculinist Victorian business ethos and, later, the Victorian imperialist urge; and the strong reformist impulse to which evangelicalism also gave rise was quite remote from femininist quietism. It is far from clear what was evangelical, in Nelson's sense, about the author of Tom Brown's School Days, the hearty outdoorsman who was active in the causes of social and church reform and happy to take on the duties of boxing coach and major-commandant of the volunteer rifle corps at the London Working Men's College. As to Hughes's young protagonist, Tom Brown continues to strive, though in pursuit of worthier goals, even after Arthur at Rugby and Hardy at Oxford smooth down the rough edges of his maleness.
{7} Like everyone who undertakes this sort of study, which concerns itself with the effect literature was designed to bring about in a particular kind of reader, Nelson is hampered by our still quite imprecise knowledge of the composition of the Victorian reading audience. Surely boys were not the only readers of boys' books any more than children were the only consumers of children's literature. A number of the titles she treats were widely reviewed in "adult" periodicals, and The Water-Babies, like Tom Brown at Oxford before it, was initially serialized in the heavyweight Macmillan's Magazine. Nelson is aware of the problem and of the related difficulty involved in disentangling the "children's stories" of an author like Dinah Mulock Craik from the same writer's "fiction for adults" (p. 159).
{8} Quibbles aside, Claudia Nelson has successfully performed an important task in Boys Will Be Girls, and students of Victorian literature and Victorian culture are in her debt.

George J. Worth
University of Kansas

Posted by: winifer skattebol on September 16, 2004 8:44 PM



Well, as a cusp boomer myself (born in 1962, which gives me two years on the X'ers, apparently), I remember that besides this YA fiction certain other kinds of books were popular in my youth: everyone read Vonnegut, for example, then moving on to Tolkien. Somewhat more ambitious, I suppose, than Judy Blume et al., who also had their place. In the end, though, they were books to grow out of.

I myself was fortunate enough to have a bookstore nearby run by a disaffected '60s radical who introduced me to Henry Miller and William S. Burroughs when I was 14 or so. It was also there that I came across William Gaddis's The Recognitions. Which only demonstrates, I guess, how freakish my own tastes were at the time.

Posted by: George on September 17, 2004 7:50 AM



Catcher in the Rye, I think, though written from a teen perspective, keeps enough of an ironic distance from its protagonist so that its vision of teen experience speaks more deeply to an adult perspective--someone equipped to look back at adolescence from the far end of it rather than someone still stuck in the middle of it. At least, this was my impression when I reread the novel recently.

Posted by: Mark Dellelo on September 17, 2004 8:37 AM



Nate,

my take on why schools are teaching drivel rather than some of the really good stuff out there is that the kids are cant or wont read the harder books. My daughter's 8th grade class read a book serialized in the local paper last year. I picked it up at the bookstore and discovered it was written at a 3rd to 4th grade level. And what is scary is that the teacher told me at PT conferences that even then, some or most of her students were having difficulty following the storyline.

It's one of the reasons I am homeschooling my daughter this year. We're reading Genesis now and will be starting The Odyssey soon and I plan on doing some Shakespeare, some Chaucer and a little Dickens for a breather.

Posted by: Deb on September 17, 2004 9:28 AM



Deb: Bless you! I'm sure your daughter will thank you for it.

My wife was homeschooled by parents and a tutor. Her parents caved in and did it for her after she got serious Mononucleosis in eighth grade. Every time she went back to school she'd get deadly ill again.

So they homeschooled, and she got into the University of Michigan after just 2 1/2 years of it. And to get back on topic - she never read any young adult novels!

Maybe you're daughters can't follow the story because those books are so dreadfully dull. At least Genesis and the Odyssey have some good old fashioned action! Murders! Sex! Begetting!

Doug: I hadn't thought about that - pre-television novels having to spend more time describing basic experiences. Do you think this is why modern fiction has become so terse and vague? How much is the reader expected to fill in from their own experience?

...

How about the emergence of the Harry Potter books? How do they fit into the YA scheme? I myself am thrilled to see kids from elementary school on up salivating over these massive tomes. Maybe this generation will be able to follow a storyline by the time they reach middle school.

Posted by: Nate on September 17, 2004 11:05 AM



I never liked Catcher in the Rye. I first read it in 8th grade after watching an episode of "Lou Grant" about book banning/burning. I figured any book that grownups didn't want us to read had to be good. I read it a second time in high school for english class and I still hated it. I couldn't identify with it at all, Holden Caufield was the worst whiner I'd ever seen, and the book seemed to have no point. I never understood why baby boomers raved about it so much, until I read Less than Zero in college. That book was shocking, horrifying, but strangely compelling. One of the blurbs on the back of the cover compared it to Catcher in the Rye, and I figured that Catcher must have invoked the same feelings to its audience when it was first published.

Getting back to YA fiction, I also enjoyed children's literature, especially the Doctor Doolittle series by Hugh Lofting. But when I was starting to hit puberty, the YA fiction would deal with sex, and sometimes drug use. Always with some kind of consequence of course, but it was still titillating to read about at that age.

Posted by: Brendan on September 17, 2004 1:37 PM



Nate: "I hadn't thought about that - pre-television novels having to spend more time describing basic experiences. Do you think this is why modern fiction has become so terse and vague? How much is the reader expected to fill in from their own experience?"

I think the reduction in the obsessive descriptions of surroundings from the Victorian level is at least partly a result of a larger symbol vocabulary for the expected audience. It seems to also be a stylistic change, but the stylistic change may be driven in part by the same phenomenon.

If an author writes, "Mykynzzyy* whistled down a cab and climbed in", I know that I have a picture in my head that probably includes a yellow cab, the back of the driver's head, a glass screen between the front and back seats, and probably a beat up hack license tacked to the dashboard.

Your mental picture is probably different, but likely to be similarly detailed. In a world of picture postcards, newspaper line art, and very little other depiction of the world of far away, it seems to me that more description would be far more useful.

That said, I don't discount entirely the idea that page after page of decription was driven by publishers who paid by the word. I do question why a publisher would be willing to pay for useless padding, however.

As to how much a reader is expected to fill in, that seems to be a judgement call for the author. Guess right and get more writing contracts.

* I suspect the name needs another 'y', but I'm not sure where.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on September 17, 2004 3:32 PM



Growing up in the '80s and '90s I do remember a lot of YA books around. Personally I read a lot of SF and fantasy instead, but I read several anorexia books when I had a couple of friends refusing to eat, and I remember the Sweet Valley High series and Julie Andrews getting passed around a lot at school.

From memory, YA books were sort of a bridge between childrens and adults, the plots were more complicated than, say, Peter Pan or the Babysitters' Club, but not as complex as the books in the adult part of the library and the protagonists tended to be in the YA range too. We were presented with a lot of 'problem books' by librarians, but I can't recall them being anywhere near as popular as Julie Andrews or the Sweet Valley High girls. Mostly I found them too self-consciously written to 'help' YA, rather than to tell a good story.

Posted by: Tracy on September 20, 2004 9:57 AM






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