Posted by Lizzie on 05/11/09
Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading Lizzie Skurnick. Avon, $14.99 paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-175635-1
Launched from her regular feature column “Fines Lines” for Jezebel.com, this spastically composed, frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on favorite YA novels dwells mostly among the old-school titles
from the late ’60s to the early ’80s much beloved by now grown-up ladies. This was the era, notes the bibliomaniacal Skurnick in her brief introduction, when books for young girls moved from being “wholesome and entertaining” (e.g., The Secret Garden and the Nancy Drew series) to dealing with real-life, painful issues affecting adolescence as depicted by Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume, Madeleine L’Engle and Norma Klein. Skurnick groups her eruptive essays around themes, for example, books that feature a particularly memorable, fun or challenging narrator (e.g., Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy); girls “on the verge,” such as Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret or “danger girls” such as Duncan’s Daughters of Eve; novels that deal with dying protagonists and other tragedies like child abuse (Willo Davis Roberts’s Don’t Hurt Laurie!); and, unavoidably, heroines gifted with a paranormal penchant, among other categories. Skurnick is particularly effective at spotlighting an undervalued classic (e.g., Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase)* and offers titles featuring troubled boys as well. Her suggestions will prove superhelpful (not to mention wildly entertaining) for educators, librarians and parents. (Aug.)
* This was actually Laura Lippman’s essay, for which I am tremendously grateful!
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