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Book Review: Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History Of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction
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Paperback Crush review

Paperback Crush
The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction
Paperback | Kindle | Audiobook
Written by Gabrielle Moss
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: October 30, 2018

“What exactly are computers — like, are they magic boxes that can force you to switch bodies with your boyfriend?” – Changing Places

Bummer Summer
Slam Book
The New Jessica
Twice Taken
Boys Are Yucko!

Does anyone remember these titles? These and hundreds of others delighted adolescents and teens of the ’80s and ’90s, when they swarmed WaldenBooks for the latest titles and devoured words. Gabrielle Moss has put together a lovely thick volume of teenage crushes, jealousy, horror, and happiness in Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction.

Paperback Crush starts with the cover, the bright colors mimicking the novels it talks about inside. This is not your typical history of fiction book, as it is funny, quirky, self-deprecating, and just downright fun. It is organized by type, and although does not contain every book (would be much larger) and focuses on some of the author’s faves more than others, it still is so enmeshed in nostalgia, that you won’t care.

The book includes a timeline that spans from the publishing of the first Nancy Drew novel in 1930, to Twilight in 2005. It’s 242 pages packed with info on thousands of pages I need to visit or revisit. I remember these covers and these names – Francine Pascal, Jeanne Betancourt, Caroline Cooney. Moss separates her chapters by topic rather than order: Love, Friends, Family, School, Jobs, Danger, Terror.

Any teen or even any adult who has ever read any of these books, should pick up Paperback Crush. I think I need to buy some of these old titles for my little girl, and get her into reading as much as I was and still am.

Official Synopsis:

A hilarious and nostalgic trip through the history of paperback pre-teen series of the 80s and 90s.

Every twenty- or thirty-something woman knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence. Spurred by the commercial success of Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, these were not the serious-issue YA novels of the 1970s, nor were they the blockbuster books of the Harry Potter and Twilight ilk. They were cheap, short, and utterly beloved.

PAPERBACK CRUSH dives in deep to this golden age with affection, history, and a little bit of snark. Readers will discover (and fondly remember) girl-centric series on everything from correspondence (Pen Pals and Dear Diary) to sports (The Pink Parrots, Cheerleaders, and The Gymnasts) to a newspaper at an all-girls Orthodox Jewish middle school (The B.Y. Times) to a literal teen angel (Teen Angels: Heaven Can Wait, where an enterprising guardian angel named Cisco has to earn her wings “by helping the world’s sexist rock star.”) Some were blatant ripoffs of the successful series (looking at you, Sleepover Friends and The Girls of Canby Hall), some were sick-lit tearjerkers à la Love Story (Abby, My Love) and some were just plain perplexing (Uncle Vampire??) But all of them represent that time gone by of girl-power and endless sessions of sustained silent reading.

In six hilarious chapters (Friendship, Love, School, Family, Jobs, Terror, and Tragedy), Bustle Features Editor Gabrielle Moss takes the reader on a nostalgic tour of teen book covers of yore, digging deep into the history of the genre as well as the stories behind the best-known series.

Paperback Crush cover

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