The 80s were always a bad idea

Read a post today by MBC (a lovely and witty fellow librarian spinster whose blog I recommend) that jogged a special, even sacred memory which I must now share. A couple of weeks ago I weeded through some of the YA collection, looking for ripped up, outdated, low-circulating items. What I found were stacks of books with cover designs from the 1980s, complete with the worst of the day's fashions. MBC describes how difficult it is to convince teenagers to take a book seriously when the cover model is wearing pegged pants. And oh, what truth she speaks.

The biggest treasure in the collection for me, though, was an entire shelf of books with titles like Too Young to Die. They all have really soft, misty photography on the cover, with pensive models wearing pastel-colored sweaters. I remember reading books just like these in the late 80s and early 90s. I owned one in which a girl starts volunteering as a candy striper and not only loses weight because she works so hard that she forgets to eat, but she also meets a teen cancer patient named Matt and he becomes her boyfriend. Until he dies. Now I have to wonder what exactly was going on with us as young girls that made terminal cancer and the teens who have it such a riveting literature form?


Scully said... [reply]

Because if one of you dies in the 'honeymoon' phase, your love remains, innocent, perfect, and forever. Without all the awkwardness and stress that accompanies growing up, growing apart and facing real life. Also, melodrama is the mode du jour of teenage life.

East of Eden said... [reply]

Pastel sweaters aside, I think the name "Lurlene" would sacre me away.

Anth said... [reply]

Oh my gosh. Lurlene McDaniels. I remember seeing those books at the library when I was a young teen. Inexplicably, tragic teenage love was not much of a draw to me. I stuck to the paranormal and SVH. Oh yes. I just said SVH. My only defense is I was 13.

Sherry said... [reply]

I remember reading books when I was about 11 that were about girls in trouble, and mysterious people (who turned out to be angels) came to help. The books always had really great stickers in them.

And usually there was some sort of tragedy involved. I only read a few in the series, but I read each one multiple times.

Azúcar said... [reply]

Why did no one ever tell me that the name "Lurlene" was an option?

'sposita said... [reply]

oh. my. gosh. I read THAT book. I remember not liking the creepy fellow cancer guy and liking her rich friend who gets her a fabulous wig.

I can't say I'd recommend it, but I remember liking it because she lived through it, even though it was hard.

abby said... [reply]

I remember reading books by Scholastic called Sunfire Romances. They had titles like Emily, Cassandra, and stuff like that. The girl always had a choice between two guys and would always choose the ugly poor one on the cover. Does anyone else remember those?

I read a Susan Evans McCloud book once. LDS teen romance fiction is a another level of cheesey.

Desmama said... [reply]

BWAHAHAHA! This so makes me laugh, because I totally remember reading these too, and it makes me embarrassed but oh well. I do wish the eighties were not part of my formative years, but what can I do?

coolmom said... [reply]

I just sent to American Samoa for transcripts of a girl named Lurlene. I had never seen that name before before. Her nickname, though, is Tusi, which is very cute.

Jenny said... [reply]

Thank you for not sharing these with me. I love you so much more now than I did before reading this.

kristen said... [reply]

I remember reading a few books about a girl with leukemia, and how she went to camp, and met a boy, and they hooked up...... good times. Nothing beats Sweet Valley High though. I think I read the majority of those.

I love the 80s. What a classic decade.

coolmom said... [reply]

Okay, don't count the errors (grammatical and otherwise) in that last post.

April said... [reply]

Before I even saw the picture, I though, "She's gotta be talking about Lurlene McDaniel." hahaha My favorite teen book was about a teenage girl who babysat a little boy all the time, and she kept finding bruises all over him. It was called "I Won't Let Them Hurt You." Oh, brother. Hmmm...I feel a post coming on.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Confession time. I actually have about 30 of those Sunfire Romances still hanging around. I bought the first out of a Scholastic Book Order in the 5th or 6th grade and most of the rest at the Ogden "Bookateria." I think that is where I learned all of the American history I knew for the AP test.

And for the TRUE confession. I reread a few of them when I nursed baby number two--like three years ago. My favorite is the one when the girl disguises herself as a boy to follow her brothers to California in a wagon train. She falls in love with her traveling companion, who figures out she is a girl and falls in love with her and she doesn't know it.

I always imagined that when the time came to fall in love, there would be a choice between two men. One of them poor and understanding, the other rich and controlling. I don't remember any of them ever being ugly; after all, the girls were always gorgeous, why should they fall in love with ugly men?

Nemesis said... [reply]

Science Teacher Mommy, mine came from the Scholastic Book Fair!

Of course, I got rid of mine at some point . . . hee hee.

Kelly said... [reply]

I LOVED the Sunfire romances. My favorite was Susannah, about the sassy Southern belle during the Civil War. She had an easy choice in that one though. I think her Confederate boyfriend died, leaving her free to run off with the Yankee soldier she really loved.

In the Lurlene McDaniels vein was one called "Why Am I Too Young?" about a girl who falls in love with the older lifeguard one summer. Why indeed.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

I only read one or two of those Lurlene McDaniel books. I also remember the Sunfire romances and I read a lot of them. I think I liked them because they were historical (and I totally remember the wagon train one!). For years I shunned things that were more "contemporary". I also had a phase where I was really into reading books about WWII and the Holocaust. There was this one about a girl who was a ballet dancer in Vienna and all the horrible things she lived through, like eating horses and stuff. I think my real life was too boring or something...

RC Cola! said... [reply]

I favored the "horror" genre really. R.L. Stine's Fear Street series.

And then there were the Christopher Pike novels, which I remember thinking, "I was able to buy this at Deseret Book? There's sex in this YA novel!" But I certainly didn't tell a soul.

Nemesis said... [reply]

RC Cola, I'm with you. Every time I went to the mall as an eleven-year-old I had to swing by Waldenbooks and buy another Christopher Pike novel with my babysitting money.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

I think I've figured it out Nem! I should have tried to get published in the 80's. It looks like it was much easier.

I'm saving the Sunfire romances for my daughter. . . I know, what daughter?

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