Fine Lines Plotfinder Returns!

Posted by Lizzie on 06/28/10

It’s so weird to crosspost w/Shelf Discovery and Old Hag. It makes me feel a bit Tara, but both sides seem perfectly at ease with each other, if their host body is not. Point: I’m bringing back Plotfinder from Fine Lines, and I wrote about it on the Shelf Discovery blog, but now that Old Hag is open is seems I should point to it here. Alors, here’s the whole post too this time, and we’ll work out who lives where in the near future:


One of the great sadnesses about leaving Jezebel’s “Fine Lines” series behind is that I also had to retire the Plotfinder series, in which you all sent me your mysterious queries — “Girl on a bus who eats bean sprouts and peanut butter sandwich?” “The Divorce Express!” — and we all solved them.

Plotfinder was one of those weird items that sprang up organically almost from the first column, and I’ve often wondered if it’s because strange details and covers are so much more likely to endure — “Blue dress, orange dress, girl who says Avenue of the Americas instead of Sixth Avenue?” from “The Trouble With Thirteen” are especially persistent with me — than actual titles at that age. Someone could probably do a neurological study on it, and I am not that person! I am just the person in possession of about 100 unsolved queries who was always like “I’ll add it to the queue” and then let it languish for an unacceptable period.

Yesterday I found yet another trove of used YA — this one in Seaburn Books, in Astoria — and was like WAIT — why am I not posting a cover and a Plotfinder with some regularity so we can all enjoy the mystery and wonder thereof? In any case, I am now going to do so. Since I literally have 96 I should probably do one once a day but we’ll space them out. I’ll also see if I can get my publisher to donate some “Shelf Discovery” copies for the winners. For now it is all for the honor and the glory.

Feel free to answer HERE, or to friend Shelf Discovery on FB and answer there. You can also send me an email at

These first two come from Betsy P. and Ashley T.:

The book was set in Maryland. The heroine was a cheerleader/all around good girl who gets auctioned off, in a charity auction, to the school bad boy (drag racer) who gets her to skip school and help clean his car. They start to go out and her horizons get broadened by seeing that he is smart, etc. A secondary plot line is her trying to get into Mt. Holyoke and getting wait listed. She also has a brother at Yale who is becoming a hippie and questioning the family’s values and lifestyle.

The book ends with a pregnancy scare and the girl deciding to go to a small school in VA. She and the boy break up and she moves on with her life, but not the one that she took for granted she would have.

My guess is that it was published in the early 70’s. The cover of the book showed a Peter Max bedspread and a princess phone. How I can remember these arcane details and not the character’s names is a mystery to me.

The books are about a girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. In one book, she goes to school barefoot and is shamed by her teacher, whom she later learns to appreciate and who learns to appreciate her. In another book, she goes to the mainland for high school and decides against accounting in favor of the college course. Perhaps also In that book, she saves her money to buy “the book of knowledge” that she sees advertised in a magazine and desperately wants.

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Nothing’s BEA in fifth grade

Posted by Lizzie on 05/26/09

 If you missed it, I reviewed Barthe DeClements’ “Nothing’s Fair In Fifth Grade” for Jezebel last Friday.


I will be signing galleys of Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, at Book Expo America, which is to say, Free Books!!!!!! Info below:

Time: Friday, May 29th, 11:00 am

Place: Table 13, Author signing area

Jacob Javits Center, 655 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

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An extraordinarily long housecleaning post

Posted by Lizzie on 05/19/09

Hello all! I am currently in the process of creating yet another new site that will either give me some central place to post news for the book or (more likely) create yet another site to update. But until such time as all this is fed into some grand aggregator in the sky, some recent news/links for your amusement:

areyoutheregoditsmedodai020I started up the Fine Lines column again two weeks with Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, and discovered I was a terribly old lady who was probably only about one week away from needing a full set of fake teeth. Read the full column here.

kinflicks051509I also started up the Shelf Pleasuring column again last week with one of my favorite books, Lisa Alther’s now mainly unsung Kinflicks, which I gifted in the days before Mustela sets and diaper caddies were all the rage. Read that full column here.

At the LA Times Book Festival two weeks ago, I sat on a panel about reading with the marvelous Laura Miller, Jane Smiley, and Sara Nelson. Then C-Span put it on TV! I find this, inexplicably, hilarious.


You can watch the entire panel here, or, if you like, I’ve assembled some handy clips. (You’ll have to allow popups for the player to work.)

Wherein I discuss the infamous pancake slashing incident

Wherein I recall how wondrous were the days when parents had no idea what you were doing

Wherein I manage to move the conversation around to erections

Wherein I clear up the misconception that the Little House books are heartwarming

Shelf Discovery is on Facebook! (Though disturbingly NOT showing up on Amazon searches today. Oh, AMAZON…) You can make these dopey badges so people can friend you in one click. I made one:
Shelf Discovery’s Profile
Shelf Discovery's Facebook Profile
Create Your Badge

The book also has a mailing list you can sign up for to get news and updates. 

I will also be doing a signing at BEA next Friday at 11:00 in “the signing area,” wherever that is, and sitting on some panel or other at Printer’s Row in Chicago. Then I will be doing like 68 other things. More info on that and other events as those dates approach. 

You can also just buy the book. I am completely exhausted. I cannot wait, CANNOT WAIT, for this new goddamn site.

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