Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzie Skurnick

5644891I added this book to my TBR list after Meg Cabot mentioned her essay in it. I was a voracious reader as a child and still have fond memories of many of the books I devoured during that time. I was excited to read about those book by other people who enjoyed them as I did.

However, it turns out that with the exception of Meg Cabot’s essay and about three others, I hadn’t read any of the other “teen classics” mentioned herein. I guess my devotion to “Sweet Valley Twins,” “Sleepover Friends” and “The Fabulous Five” series limited my other reading possibilities. I really did enjoy Meg’s essay about Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret as well as the author’s essay about Little House in the Big Woods. I was happy to see the inclusion It’s Not The End of the World, but it’s “extra credit” write up left a lot to be desired.

I ended up skimming most of this book since the essays assume episodic knowledge of the book being discussed. Since I’m not a serial re-reader of anything, much less novels I read as a child, it was hard to follow most of the essays, even those about books I had read. Disappointing.

I also gave up on page 5 of Hating Valentine’s Day. Just knew it wasn’t going to be a book I would enjoy. I’m really trying to read all the Red Dress Ink books, but that one just wasn’t going to cut it for me.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

9461872Outing myself as a big geek, but in the Lois & Clark fandom, there’s a term called WHAM which stands for “Wistful, Heartwrenching, Agonizing Moment” and is defined as “When something Really Bad happens.” I had read somewhere in the press leading up to the release of a FIFTH book that there was a WHAM about halfway through Sisterhood Everlasting, but that was wrong.

It happens around page 50. And from then on, it just sort of settles on your heart.

Usually I don’t give a fuck about spoilers because books aren’t like TV shows and no one’s going to read them in the order that you do, but in this particular case, I’m going to try to be vague because it really is worth the WHAM.

Given my particular history with the nature of the event, I almost put the book down and sent it back to Amazon. I’ve lived through the aftermath, more than once and had no inclination to relive that period in my life. So I put it down for a couple of days and tonight, I just picked it up again. I had to know how it ended for the Sisterhood girls. I read for three hours, straight through, just needing to know how it turned out.

The girls are all now 30, just like me. And even though I’m not an actress or a painter or whatever, I could see pieces of myself in them, just like always. I cried more than once and I still feel a little teary-eyed in the aftermath. I want to call my girls, the ones that have babies and dissertations and dogs and jobs, but we still find time to exchange 27 emails about finding a place for dinner two weeks ago.

So many books about women, the genre I read almost exclusively, has one character with a likeable flaw and a plucky best friend who tells them they are awesome or whatever and that flaw turns out to be a strength and the guy comes by with flowers and everyone lives happily ever after. I loved and hated this book because real friendship, especially after college, isn’t like that. We all get busy with those babies and husbands and jobs and lives and it can be really easy to just let go or send the annual Christmas card with a bland update about vacations and first steps and promotions. I guess it just reminded me that even when I feel lonely, I’m so lucky to have my girls, who send me coupons for things that I need to save money on and with whom I can have massive discussions on Twitter about the latest gossip while we’re all at work (totally on a break, of course!).

Life hits you with a WHAM every once in a while, and it’s easy to get stuck in that place where it never feels like it’s going to be normal again. But I think if you’ve got your girls that you know you *can* call, even if you don’t always, the boys and the babies and jobs, the rest of it, it all works out, usually in the weirdest, most perfect way.

I’m glad I finished the book. Read it on those days that you want to cry, but don’t want to let yourself and blame the book. I didn’t know I needed the closure with these girls, but I’m glad I got it. Yay for the Sisterhood, wherever you find them!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling

136251It was long. It was overly descriptive. The forced romance between several couples was a bit unnecessary. She killed off many too many characters, sometimes seemingly just because she could. There was an epilogue set 19 years after the final chapter that did absolutely nothing to advance the plot or the lives of the characters.

But I’m glad I read it.

I got into the Harry Potter universe later than most, but I liked the journey. The last three books were the worst of the series, mostly because her editors refused to cut the damn things down to a manageable level. I skimmed most of book six and now about half of book seven. I’m not as big a fan as I was when I first started reading these books three years ago. It was a good series, but not sad it’s over. Just a good universe to delve into and then come back, move on from.

I’ll be immersing myself back in Bill Clinton’s autobiography as I travel across the country. I hope to finish it before his next book comes out.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

82783My soul sister, Sharon, sent me this book for my 24th birthday. I promptly put it on the shelf to read “someday.” Now that I’ve finished it, I wish there had been a note on it, much like Elizabeth’s mum’s notes, telling me to “READ THIS!!! OVER HERE!!!”

This book was a delightful read that made me nostalgic for the early days of high school. You didn’t have to worry about college or test scores, but you started like like boys and could actually go places on dates with them. The entire book is told in a series of letters, either from real people or imaginary “associations” that help present some of Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings that she doesn’t share with her family or friends.

The letters between Elizabeth and her stranger-turned-best-friend Christina reminded me so much of the notebooks that my friends and I used to write in while in high school. We would trade the spiral bound notebooks back and forth between classes, writing notes about our lives instead of taking notes about our schoolwork. It was a little time capsule of our lives right in the moment. We talked about the boys we liked, our parents that we didn’t like, who was gossiping about who and all the usual teenage things. But we also talked about our hopes and dreams for the future, even though we had no idea where we’d end up or how we’d get there.

I loved this little trip back to high school. It brought back a lot of memories of how your friends change and you change, but you can’t see it because you’re you. And I realized that perhaps I wasn’t the only one in the world who had had a crush on a guy and had my crush fall in love with my best friend. I know it was over ten years ago – but it still made me feel better.

Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares

5453Apparently my penchant for reading books in one whole sitting has continued. Last night, when I posted about Can You Keep a Secret?, I mentioned that I was about 30 pages into Forever in Blue.

Well, this morning, I woke up and finished the whole thing. I took a break to take a shower, but otherwise spent most of the day curled up on the couch, reading. I did that with the last one too.

It was a lot easier for me to dive back into these four lives than I had thought. I was also surprised to see how well I identified with plots of the girls (three of the four to be exact – can you figure out which ones?). As usual, it was a super quick read and I really enjoyed it. I’m sorry to see the series end, but at the same time, she did it so well.

And by the way – I’m now AHEAD of schedule. Go me!