Published: June 1st, 2009
Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading
By: Lizzie Skurnick
Some people are baffled by re-reading. What's the point? There's so much else to read. With these essays, Lizzie Skurnick has answered those questions. It's as if a kindly psychiatrist suddenly appeared with a missing sheaf of brain scans. Does the mere mention of a mink-trimmed coat make you secretly swoon, even though you are rabidly anti-fur? You have a 'Little Princess' complex. Do you long to cover your enemies with leeches? You're having a 'Little House' flashback... So stretch out on Dr. Lizzie's couch and find out why you think it would be kind of cozy to locked up in an attic with your brother. Or learn to dissect the subtle class consciousness of Judy Blume's New Jersey. Ponder the way that Lois Duncan's characters come into unexpected powers, natural and supernatural alike, as they enter adolescence.
And most of all, enjoy.
In my experience there a couple different types of people. Those who grow up to be jaded and can no longer find lasting value in anything they deem as 'childish' or too young - and those who return to the comfort and value that they found in those childish things, reveling in reliving it. Books are not to be excluded from this very un-academic theory of someone with no real data to back it up. I am the type of person who still reads 'children's' books and loves them, many a time far better than the ones written for so called adults! I spend most of my summer re-reading Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle In Time, and Anne of Green Gables on a blanket in the park. These are the books that have stuck with me my entire life. I have been reading and re-reading Anne of Green Gables consistently since I was 8 years old. That is almost sixteen years of my life! So I definitely find value in these books. They taught me things as a child and they also can have such a great beauty to them as well, with a depth of writing that might surprise and astonish many nay-saying, snobbish adults who find themselves too 'mature' for them. So when I found out about Lizzie Skurnick's book of essays about her childhood reads, I knew it was right up my alley. However, I am also the girl who read Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism by Michael Cart FOR FUN!!! This is an analytical book one of my friend's had to read in classes for her Masters Degree in Library Science! I am not your average animal my friends.
I enjoyed myself immensely! I really liked reading Skurnick's reviews about the books that I had read as a child, young teen and adult. I also garnered some titles to check out from the library and read for myself (that I somehow missed while I was devouring my school and public libraries as a child - I was and am a book zombie. Books instead of brains!) that I have never read before. It was extremely interesting to see Lizzie's insights into some of her childhood favorites, now that she's an adult. I especially enjoyed the sometimes snarky nature of the book reports. Nothing is favored by me more in reviews than honesty and a good sense of humor!
Sometimes the book did have a feeling of being disjointed, probably due to it's initial incarnation as a column on the website Jezebel. I did like the fact that all the essays were indexed by theme and sectioned off. I could easily flip to whichever essay I preferred to read. Skurnick covers such classics as Jacob Have I Loved, Blubber, A Wrinkle In Time, Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, Harriet the Spy, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Stranger With My Face, Go Ask Alice, and many more! If you enjoy this sort of book and want a walk down memory lane, I highly recommend reading it! :) It was a nice change of pace, although I would have liked more in-depth analysis to go with the plot summaries. I leave you only with my happy nostalgia fuzz and this quote from a constant re-read of my own:
“The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”
Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**