I was thinking about Throwback Thursdays and nostalgia and some of the teen books I read back in late elementary school and early high school, and then I thought, why don’t I combine those topics into a blog post? So here are some of the very first teen books I remember checking out, when I first ventured into the teen section of my local library. (I hope this doesn’t date me too much!)
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
(originally published May 1, 1998)
Sarah Dessen’s second novel! My first introduction to Sarah Dessen, the queen of young adult novels. I loved this and her first book, That Summer. I’m pretty sure I read them when I was in grade six, and then the movie How to Deal came out, which starred Mandy Moore and was based on Someone Like You and That Summer. I loved that too, and I actually still own the DVD. The first picture was the original cover when I read it; how covers have changed!
What’s in a Name by Ellen Wittlinger
(originally published March 1, 2000)
The residents of Scrub Harbor are caught in a war about the name of the town: some want to change it and some want to keep it the same. With this as the backdrop, diverse teens in the town narrate their own chapter while exploring questions like who they are, what identity is, and, of course, what’s in a name.
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
(originally published August 28, 2001)
Ah, the funny, smart, observant, cynical character of Jessica Darling. Her journals chronicle her life at high school after her best friend moves away, her encounters with the popular girls, and the indescribable Marcus Flutie. Her sarcastic remarks and observations elevate this above your average YA novel.
Love and Other Four-Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler
(originally published January 2002)
To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about this book. I think it deals with all the typical teen novel themes: family, divorce, friendship, crushes, growing up, and change. But I remember loving it when I read it way back in the day. And for some reason, it stands out as one of the very, very first books I ever checked out from the teen section. Because of that, it has to have a place on this list!
California Diaries by Ann M. Martin
(originally published starting in 1997)
This series was a spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club, in which Dawn moves back to California and reunites with her friends Sunny, Maggie, Amalia, and Ducky. All the students at school have to keep a journal, so each book in the series is the journal of a different character in the group. California Diaries was much edgier than The Baby-sitters Club, dealing with issues like anorexia, teen partying and drinking, and a parent dying of cancer. Someone attempts suicide; someone else is the victim of a hate crime; another deals with an abusive boyfriend. In other words, the series tackles some pretty heavy issues. At the time, I remember thinking California Diaries was much cooler and more scandalous than The BSC, and I felt kind of cool and adult for reading them. I don’t actually know if the series is considered teen fiction or children’s fiction. The characters are 13 years old (except for Ducky, who is 16), so they’re kind of on the cusp.
Did you read any of these back in the day? What were your first teen reads?