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Fun Friday: Teen Read Week

Friday, October 22, 2010

Unbeknownst to me (probably because I’m still trying to get The Art of Romance finished), this week was the American Library Association’s Teen Read Week. So I thought this would be a great time to list some of my favorite YA books—five from my actual teen reading years (early teen years—I started reading adult fiction young), and one series I came to as an adult.

It goes without saying that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books were—and still are—some of my all-time favorites. But those have been favorites since before I was a teen. So I went to books specifically from those years (which, except the one published in the mid-1980s, I found them/read them either when I was actually a tween or after they’d been out for several years. I officially became a teen in 1984).

Can I Get There by Candlelight by Jean Slaughter Doty, © 1980, published by Scholastic. This book had everything—horses, time travel, and history. This was probably one of my last girl-and-her-horse novels.

      Gail’s parents have just rented a carriage house, about all that’s left of an old country estate. The big house was torn down long ago, and woods have sprung up where the lawns and gardens grew. Beyond the woods, fields stretch for miles—perfect for riding. But when Gail steps through the iron gate near the edge of the woods, she has a shock. Instead of fields, she looks across a wide lawn to an enormous house! and running toward her is a girl wearing a dress from a hundred years ago! Somehow, Gail has gone back in time. Can she return to the present? Or will she and Candy [her horse] be caught in the past forever?

Spunky by Dori Brink, © 1980, published by Scholastic. It’s a dog’s life . . . told from the dog’s point of view. Spunky begins life as a thrown-away puppy who is found and adopted by a young couple. Other dogs come into their family. They move to a big house out in the country. Stuff happens that made me cry every time I read the book. (I have this thing where I cry whenever I read a book/see a movie about dogs.)

      You are asleep now and don’t even know I am here watching you. The house is still and everyone else is asleep, too. I will see that no harm comes to you. If anything happens, I will bark loud and even bite. I’ve learned a lot in the past year since I was a pup. As soon as you are able to stretch your legs, we will run through the fields and play together. There is so much I can show you and so many things we can do. Strange how much I love you. Up until now, I didn’t know how love could feel. Maybe if I tell you about myself, you will understand. . . .

Secret Love by Barbara Steiner, © 1982, published by Scholastic. Until I started writing contemporary romance almost twenty years later, this was the only contemporary romance novel I’d ever read. I was truly a historical romance junkie. But thank goodness for my finding this book when I was fourteen or fifteen (several years after it was originally published, I’ll have you know!), because if I hadn’t had some seed planted for loving contemporary romance, where would I be now? (And you can see by the condition of the front cover in this scan just how often I read it, too!)

      The first red rose arrives after Mandy sprains her ankle. The second one comes on her birthday. The cards are not signed. Who sent them? Her boyfriend, Matt? Her father? Or does she have a secret admirer?

      Mandy hardly has time to think about it. Her sophomore year is so confusing! Matt wants to go steady—but Mandy’s not ready yet. Pris, who used to be her best friend, is only interested in dating, so she and Mandy are slowly growing apart. And Ted, her longtime friend, is acting distant and cool.

      The red roses remain a mystery—until a dozen arrive the day of the Christmas dance, and Mandy learns that secret love can be true love.

White Jade by Willo Davis Roberts, © 1975, published by Doubleday in 1975. Though intended for adult readers, it really is more of a YA book (and a very tame one by today’s general-market fiction standards), with a heroine who’s barely twenty years old and the story written in her first-person point of view—very much like the most popular female YA series now. It’s written in the Gothic style and incorporates many of the wonderful elements of traditional Gothics, but in a New World, Victorian-era setting. The teaser line on the front cover reads: “She came to a place of mist and menace where even kisses tasted of terror.” The back-cover blurb doesn’t do the story justice, so I’ve written a new one:

      White Jade by Willo Davis RobertsSomeone is trying to kill her for a fortune she didn’t know she possessed.

      In 1885, following the death of her missionary parents, twenty-year-old Cecelia Jade Cummings has risked her life, and that of her crippled younger brother, to get from China to their only remaining relative—the grandfather she’s never met. But when she arrives in Eureka, California, she learns her grandfather is dying in a house filled with distant relatives who not only resent Cecelia’s presence but who may want her dead, too.

      Cecelia doesn’t know whom she can trust: Cousin Lawrie, who wants nothing more than to be left to his music and art; Cousin Edward whose overtures and insinuations make her dread his company; or Cousin Shea, whose presence holds her spellbound with a mixture of fascination and fear. But when her grandfather takes a turn for the worst, Cecelia is forced to make a decision that seals her fate—and could spell her doom, especially when he reveals with his last breath he’s written a new will. Now, someone is trying to kill her . . . and all evidence points to the man she’s starting to love.

Victoria by Willo Davis Roberts, a Sunfire Romance, © 1985, published by Scholastic. Following the formula for the Sunfire line, Victoria faces two major conflicts: a major historical event/era and choosing between two equally suitable men to whom she is almost equally attracted—though in this case, she really knows she’s in love with Cade, Luis is there as a comfort and as someone who offers to whisk her away from all the unpleasantness. It was through this book that I learned what happened in the battle at the Alamo (I’m not from Texas, so it wasn’t really part of anything I learned about in school to that point), and what gave me my interest in history (well, the whole line served to do that). The other majorly important thing about this book is that I did my first writing after reading it—writing the “sequel,” or my version of what happens after the happily ever after ending. I loved the characters so much, I just couldn’t let them go.

      To beautiful Victoria Winters, Texas in 1835 is a place where parties last for three days. It’s also a place of turmoil and violence. A war with Mexico can’t be far off. Luis Arista, the son of a wealthy Mexican landowner, offers Victoria security and comfort, but would she ever be able to adjust to his way of life? Cade Riely is a ruggedly handsome Texas Ranger who loves Victoria. But he can’t marry her until—or if—he returns from the battlefields. What will become of Victoria’s Texas and the men she loves?


And then the series I came to as an adult and have been obsessed with ever since . . .

The Harry Potter series

Around the time that the sixth book was about to release, the whole “should Christians allow their children to read this” controversy started up again—back when we could discuss things like this on the main ACFW e-mail loop—but I’ve never been one to make up my mind about something just by what everyone else says about it. So I decided I’d find out what all the furor was about, and I requested all three movies (the fourth movie wasn’t out yet) and watch them to see if it was as bad as all that. They all arrived from Netflix on the same day, and I spent a Saturday afternoon watching them. And then I got on Amazon that night and ordered the “full” set (books 1–5) in paperback. I got through all five books in less than a month (and this was when I was working full-time, was Vice President of ACFW, and in graduate school). By then the sixth book was out, so I bought it, even though it was only available in hardback. And then, I ordered all of them unabridged on audiobook. And the seventh book? Well just read this post and this post.

So what are the YA/teen books you love?

  1. Friday, October 22, 2010 8:39 am

    I still have that copy of Spunky. It is on Michaela’s bookshelf right now. Being a huge dog person, she loved it. Even though I’m not that big of a dog person, I remember really enjoying reading it when I was a kid.

    I really liked the “choose your own plot/ending” books. You know, the kind where you would get to a turning point in the plot and it would say, “If you think Joe falls off the cliff, turn to page 50. If you think he gets in his car and goes home, turn to page 106.” I had some books like that that were teen romances, but I think they had them in other genres, too.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 9:48 am

      I remember the his-side/her-side romances, where you read half the book and it was the story from her point of view, then you flipped it over and read the other half of the book and it was the same story from his point of view.

      I had that copy of Spunky for years—I gave it to Michaela for Christmas several years ago. I’d never heard if she’d read it or not, so I’m glad she enjoyed it!


  2. Kav permalink
    Friday, October 22, 2010 8:59 am

    Spunky? How did I miss Spunky????? I love dog stories!!!!

    Okay — the most recent YA I just finished reading is The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson. It’s AMAZING!!!! An imaginative fairy tale retelling — reads like a medieval historical — beautifully written, fantastic romance. You don’t have to be a YA to appreciate it but I think it would make a great Christmas gift for any young women on your Christmas shopping list.

    I like to think that I was raised by Madeliene L’Engle — Meet the Austins, Moon by Night, Wrinkle in Time…the list goes on. I couldn’t get enough of her when I was teen.

    And Anne of Green Gables — the whole series. I cried my way through those…especially Rilla of Ingleside.

    And I can’t forget my penchant for Trixie Belden mysteries.

    Oh — and Phyllis A. Whitney….and Mary Stewart…and…and…and…


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 9:50 am

      I didn’t read the Anne of Green Gables books until I was in college, and then I only go through the first three or four. I hate to say it, but I enjoyed the movies better.

      We read (had them read to us) the Wrinkle in Time books from the time I was in second or third grade (because I know for a fact when my fourth grade teacher read it aloud to our class, I’d already read it on my own, which I rarely did with novels like that until after my mom had read them to us).


  3. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, October 22, 2010 9:43 am

    The Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen books by Robin Jones Gunn

    The Adventures In the Northwoods books by Lois Walfrid Johnson

    I love the Anne of Green Gables books,but they’re kind of teen/slash adult books because of her growing up, marrying and becoming a mother later. It’s the same way with the Christy Miller books. She’s a teenager in that series,but there’s some follow-up books where she goes to college and then later marries.

    The Judy Bolton mysteries and the Sue Barton nurse stories were some of my favorites as a teen. I liked the Trixie Belden books, but don’t think I read all of them. My older sisters did though. My three sisters and I used to pretend we were the characters in those books. I was always Honey, my little sister Di, my second sister Trixie and my oldest sister a fictional wife of one of the secondary characters in the book! Actually, we weren’t teenagers when we pretended this. We were definitely in elementary school!

    I definitely did not want to read the books that didn’t have some kind of romance in them.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 9:53 am

      Because I went to a little Christian school in junior high, pretty much the only novels I had access to there were Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly and Canadian West series (she was still writing both series at the time).

      Of course, at the same time, I was the Sunfire YA historical romances (general market, but clean) and the Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, and Catherine Coulter steamy romances off my mom’s shelf. After I graduated from the “girl-and-her-horse” books, I didn’t read anything but romance!


    • Leslie permalink
      Friday, October 22, 2010 10:00 am

      Well I was going to say Trixie Belden too – I loved the series. I wanted to so be Trixie but I’m more like Honey. And which secondary character? Dan? Or one of the Belden cousins? Did I mention I still have my TB books, have read many of them as an adult again and belong to a fandom group?

      Well I have so many other favorites it would take way too long to list them all! But I’m so wanting to make a list 🙂


      • Sylvia M. permalink
        Friday, October 22, 2010 10:50 am

        Yes, it was Dan Mangun (SP?). My sister names his wife Becky. She always played that part.

        We had real life houses picked out for our book characters as well as, our make-believe characters. My oldest sister loved the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and all of them. To this day when I pass these houses in our county I still look at them and say, “There’s Aunt Gertrude’s house” or “There’s Bess Marvin’s house (Nancy’s friend)”. The Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, Happy Hollisters, all have houses where we live. Those people who live there or used to live there don’t have a clue how much their homes entertained us girls on trips to school and town.


        • Leslie permalink
          Friday, October 22, 2010 10:57 am

          Mangan. Yeppers – there’s a whole lot of fanfiction out there where people have made up characters to be Dan’s wife/girlfriend/etc… Poor Dan….

          Several years ago I started a fanfiction crossover with Trixie and Nancy (with surprise guests, the Hardy brothers). I got writer’s block and never finished, oh well.


        • Kav permalink
          Friday, October 22, 2010 11:23 am

          TRIXIE BELDEN FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whooohooooo! Jim and Trixie got me hooked on romance. Anyone remember that scene on the plane home from Iowa (Happy Valley Mystery) when Jim gives Trixie a ring and says something about Trixie being his girl now and they held hands! Oh be still my twelve year old heart!!!!

          What is it about Trixie Belden that keeps living on? And I understand they actually have a Trixie Camp every summer.


        • Friday, October 22, 2010 12:19 pm

          My mom got me hooked on the Trixie Belden books, though I confess I was always first and foremost a Nancy Drew girl. 🙂


  4. Friday, October 22, 2010 9:58 am

    I have a hard time remembering what I read during my teen years that would’ve been classified as a YA read…since by the time I was 13 I was reading A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers, The Zion Covenant series by the Thoenes, and other assorted “adult” Christian fiction books. But then I do remember reading the Christy Miller series when I was a freshman/sophomore in high school and enjoying them as well. I LOVE all of L.M. Montgomery’s books, started reading those when I was in the 4th grade and then they were revisited periodically in subsequent years (I guess we balance each other out because I can’t stand any of the Little House books, LOL!).


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 11:51 am

      And most of that Christian fiction didn’t come out until after I was in college or later, so pretty much for me, growing up, it was a choice of Janette Oke or the general market. I feel fortunate in that there were some pretty good YA series coming out in the early to mid-1980s so that I got a good mix of young adult and adult reading materials. By the time I was in high school, though, except for the YA books I’d already read and fallen in love with, it was pretty much just adult fiction for me.


      • Friday, October 22, 2010 12:21 pm

        I read more actual YA in college when I started taking children’s lit classes.


  5. Friday, October 22, 2010 10:12 am

    I graduated to adult novels early too, but as a kid I loved Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Little House series, Mary Poppins series (but not so much the movie), The Borrowers and anything by Cynthia Voigt (especially Jackaroo), The Pratt Twins series by Cynthia Blair, and anything Robin Hood or King Arthur related. As and adult I love the Harry Potter and Twilight books, but also The Grimms Sisters by Michael Buckley, The Dreamhouse Kings by Robert Liparulo, ALL of Donita K. Paul’s books, and the new Wings series by Aprilynne Pike. Good grief, now that I think about it I could probably go on forever. OH, and of course Melanie Dickerson’s new release The Healer’s Apprentice. Fantastic book and the sequel will be just as great.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 10:16 am

      Oh, you mentioning The Borrowers reminded me of another series I loved as a kid – The Rescuers series by Margery Sharp about the intrepid mice Bernard and Bianca. LOVED those books! (Also loved The Borrowers!)


    • Sylvia M. permalink
      Friday, October 22, 2010 10:57 am

      You know, I never got into (still haven’t) the fantasy stories like C.S. Lewis, Harry Potter, etc. I always went for the real-life ones. Even the animal stories didn’t mean much to me. I always read girl stories too. My oldest sister liked the boy stories, but not I. Since I’ve gotten into my adult years I have read some of the Wally McDoogle books to the boy that I used to watch. He loved them and still has the whole series I think. Wally is hilarious! 🙂


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 11:53 am

      I read a fair number of Nancy Drew books (but was finished with them by the summer before seventh grade—I know this because I got rid of all of them in the garage sale we had when we moved into our new house before school started that year). They were okay, but I always wanted more romance!


  6. Friday, October 22, 2010 11:21 am

    Trixie Belden for sure. And the Sunfire books. I thought I was the only one who remembered them. My very FAVORITE was Susannah, set during the Civil War. And yet I never have been interested in writing historicals. Interesting. I did devour every single one of those little YA contemporary romances I could get my hands on. Can’t remember the name of the publisher/line now, but I still have a ton of them in boxes in my garage.

    I have ALWAYS loved romances, and they remain my first choice. It’s a miracle my relationship with my husband isn’t totally screwed up because of that. 🙂

    Speaking of Jude Devereaux… Knight in Shining Armor. ‘Nuff said.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 11:48 am

      If the YA contemporaries were from Scholastic, they may have been the Wildfire series (that’s the series Secret Love, above, was in).

      Here’s a “preview” of an article published in 1986 in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly that discusses Scholastic’s YA romance lines:


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 11:49 am

      For me, with Jude Deveraux, it was the Velvet series: Velvet Promise, Highland Velvet, Velvet Song, and Velvet Angel. Velvet Song was the first adult/general-market romance novel I ever read (at twelve years old), and when Mom talked to me about it afterward (to see if I had any questions about *those* scenes), she said she knew I was going to be a writer because all I talked about were the characters and the plot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kav permalink
        Friday, October 22, 2010 1:46 pm

        Oh my gosh I’d totally forgotten about those!!! I read them ages ago…I wasn’t as young as you though….I was in my late teens, I’d say. I’ll have to hunt those up again.


      • Friday, October 22, 2010 6:08 pm

        I loved the way JD did Twin of Ice and Twin of Fire. Same story, same timeline, two different books, two different perspectives. I have ALWAYS wanted to do that.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Friday, October 22, 2010 11:53 am

      I forgot to mention—I still have the entire Sunfire series.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 12:29 pm

      Oh, I loved A Knight in Shinning Armor. I didn’t discover it until college though, when a friend told me about it.


  7. Kav permalink
    Friday, October 22, 2010 11:27 am

    Okay — you have me waaaay too excited about this. Did anyone else go through a Victoria Holt phase? And I LOVED The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Pearce (I think).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leslie permalink
      Friday, October 22, 2010 11:34 am

      Kav – yes there is a Trixie camp every year – this year its in Canada!!!!! I am hoping to go 🙂


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 12:20 pm

      Oh, I LOVE Victoria Holt!


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 12:30 pm

      Victoria Holt phase, lol! Yes, that would have been my high school years. I still love her books. I call them my comfort books, aka the ones I go to when I’m feeling down.


  8. Friday, October 22, 2010 11:42 am

    Oh, my goodness—I can’t believe that there’s a series I totally forgot to mention, which is just as memorable/important to me as those I listed above . . . the Tobey Hayden series by Rosamund duJardin—Practically Seventeen, Class Ring, Boy Trouble, and The Real Thing. Written in the 1940s, it’s YA chick lit/romance at its best. Written in first person and following Tobey through high school and into college with the ups and downs of relationships, friendships, school, and family.

    I originally picked up Practically Seventeen at my grandparents’ house the summer I was fifteen (the last summer I spent with them before life/work interfered). It had belonged to my aunt Rinn (her name’s written in the front), and I absolutely fell in love with it. The only other book in the series that was there was Boy Trouble, so I got permission from my grandmother to take them home with me. About ten or so years ago, I managed to find Class Ring and The Real Thing (and Wedding in the Family, which has Tobey’s wedding in it but is told from her younger sister Midge’s POV) used online. I LOVE the Internet!


    • Sylvia M. permalink
      Friday, October 22, 2010 11:46 am

      Her name sounds familiar. I think my older sisters used to read her books. I’m not sure.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 12:24 pm

      Oh those sound like fun!


    • Kav permalink
      Friday, October 22, 2010 1:51 pm

      Okay — that I have to check out and it prompted me to remember Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. It was written almost turn of the century, I think. A lovely little romance. And made into a movie too, with Fred Astaire.


  9. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, October 22, 2010 11:44 am

    I forgot to mention the teen Beverly Cleary books. Yes, the author of the Ramona books and Henry Huggins books did write some teen romances. The ones I read were The Luckiest Girl, Sister of the Bride, and Fifteen.


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 1:50 pm

      And let’s not forget Judy Blume’s books, either. Those were more for tweens, and I didn’t read many of them. But I don’t know that there’s a female of my generation who wasn’t affected and very well educated by Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.


    • Kav permalink
      Friday, October 22, 2010 1:52 pm

      Okay, I’m a children’s librarian and I didn’t know Beverly Cleary wrote for teens. I’m so ashamed!


  10. Friday, October 22, 2010 12:27 pm

    Okay, I had to google Rosamud duJardin and found this neat website w/ descriptions of all her books:


    • Friday, October 22, 2010 1:50 pm

      Thanks for looking this up and posting it. I knew du Jardin had written other series, but I’d never seen any descriptions of the books.


  11. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, October 22, 2010 11:34 pm

    Way off the subject here, but I’m so happy to see that you’re half-way through writing TAOR! 🙂 Here’s how I’ve been praying for you: a) that you will be inspired, b) that you can write with ease, c) that you won’t be so tired.


  12. Audrey permalink
    Saturday, October 23, 2010 8:35 am

    Teen books for me (I still read YA books as often as I do adult books), when I was a teen, Babysitters Club. I had every book on my shelf. I stated reading those after I finished with the Babysitters little sister series.

    I also loved the Sunfire books, I scoured used book stores looking for them. My friend gave me one one day when we were in high school when I didn’t have anything to read, and I read all the time. Before class started, after eating my lunch, between classes, in the car, etc. (this was 1999-2000). I was hooked. I believe the one she gave me was Emily.

    Teen books nowadays: Anything by Meg Cabot (YA or Adult). I worshiped her Princess Diaries books (only after I saw the movie did I know there were such books), Airhead series, Mediator books, 1800-where-r-u books. I have them all.

    Twilight. Yes, I am a Twi-hard, but not nearly as much as some people I know. I love the movies and the books and I have a t-shirt of each movie poster, and that’s about it. Never went to a midnight showing, though. That’s one thing I would like to do.

    My friends hate me when I say this, but I have never cared for Harry Potter. I never got into that particular book craze. Sure, i’ve read them to see what the hype was about, but just didn’t get it.

    Sisterhood of the traveling pants. Enjoyed both the movie and the books.

    American Girl books. Read them when they were first coming out in Elementary School and whenever a new one comes out, I still read it. They teach you so much about History and what that time period was like. Just sad they are discontinuing some of the original girls. I still have all of my original books and for Christmas a few years ago, when the first movie came out, my mom got me the Samantha doll I wanted so badly back then. Some books you just never grow out of.

    There are probably many, many more that I just can’t think of right now, lol.


  13. Saturday, October 23, 2010 4:16 pm

    If you read horse books, you probably read everything by Marguerite Henry, right?

    I didn’t read a whole lot of contemporary kids/teen fiction – I read the older children’s classics like Little Women and Louisa May Alcott’s other books, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, A Little Princess etc. Johanna Spyri’s Heidi was a favorite. Did anybody else love Hans Brinker, Or, the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge? All the kids in our family have read it and reduced the paperback copy to shreds, and I can still remember most of the chapter titles by heart.


  14. Sunday, October 24, 2010 10:16 am

    Those Sunfire YA historical romances are the books that turned me on to historical fiction big time as a young teenager (and turned American history from a dead-dry subject to one that LIVED). Jessica was my favorite, the story about the Kansas (or somewhere on the prairie) young woman who befriends a young Indian man, but there’s also a new young widower in the sod house next door….

    And I will always love Catherine Marshall’s Christy, though I guess that wasn’t really YA, but I read it as a 14 year old for the first time.

    Some older YA books I still love are the British historical fiction by Rosemary Sutcliff.


  15. Sunday, October 24, 2010 10:17 am

    Oh, was it Kav that mentioned the Witch of Blackbird Pond? Yes! That was another favorite when I was a young teenager. Loved that book.


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