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Teen & Young Adult Throwback Thursday

By Eva • October 07, 2015

You know that feeling of heart-stopping embarrassment you get when you come across a photo of yourself from years ago? It's a universal 'oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-I-thought-that-was-cool' moment, and we've all been there. Puberty can be a time of questionable stylistic choices and a deluded state of believed independence. I for one thought it would be a fabulous idea to cut off my butt-length brown tresses in favor of a bleach blonde pixie cut sometime in the middle of my sophomore year of high school. Of course it was a terrible idea, and I was left with five awkward years of grow out and dye jobs, and a really unfortunate driver's license until I turned 21.

Our old interests can be equally as embarrassing as forgotten photos. And a lot of mine definitely are, but NOT the books I read in my spare time. The Teen & Young Adult genre served me well, and though their place has been taken by over-priced college textbooks, I still stand by some of the books and book series I got sucked into as an impressionable high-schooler. So in honor of it being Thursday, here is one heck of a throwback to the books I loved most as a regretfully blonde-haired teen.

  1. The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld. Westerfeld creates an immersive dystopian future in the Uglies series, following the trials and tribulations of Tally Youngblood, a cunning teenage girl who discovers the disturbing truth about the society she lives in. The novels take place after our civilization's end, and the rusted skeletons of cities we know are the backdrop for a new society built on beauty. But as Tally discovers, her culture's fixation on beauty hides something uglier than she could have imagined.

    These books had me enraptured as a seventh grader. I read them compulsively, the way most people tore their way through the Harry Potter series. Westerfeld creates an entire world of people and places that explores our society's obsession with beauty in an imaginative and retrospective way. Uglies is the first book in the series, followed by three other equally engrossing novels (Pretties, Specials, and Extras), and the collection stands equal to Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games.

  2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. Virginia Blackstone is a seventeen-year-old girl who goes by "Ginny," and is traveling to London because a little blue envelope told her to. Ginny's late aunt Peg left her with 13 envelopes leading her on a journey across Western Europe with four rules; no money, no electronics, no journals, and everything she does bring must fit inside a backpack. So Ginny sets off alone on a trip that will change her life forever, with nothing to guide her but her aunt's thirteen little blue envelopes.

    I just recently found out that there is a sequel to this book (The Last Little Blue Envelope), and I've got to be honest I kind of really want to read it. I was fourteen when I read this novel and I remember falling in love with Johnson's descriptions of London, Paris, and Keith the brooding artist love-interest. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes is a modern day adventure story about a rising senior in high school who comes of age while navigating Europe with the help of her dead aunt, and ends up falling in love along the way.

  3. The Clique Series by Lisi Harrison. Claire Lyons moves to Westchester, New York, and has what may be the worst ever documented first day of school at Octavian Country Day School for Girls. After someone wipes red paint on Claire's jeans in art class, she has to fight back tears as she walks to the nurse's office through a barrage of tampons being flung in her direction. She's made to change into something from the school lost and found, but fortunately for Claire, it's full of Coach, Prada, and Juicy Couture. Prep School girls can be total b*tches, but with luck Claire turns the A-listers into her best friends. She better watch her back though, because when it comes to the Clique, the only thing harder than getting in, is staying in.

    My friends and I passed these books around like they were the holy-grail. Lisi Harrison makes an absolute wonderland out of the lifestyles of the east coast elite, and the scheming glittering lives of their offspring make up the subject of these novels. Consider the Clique series a younger version of Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl.

  4. Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber. Dullsville is a town just about as interesting as its name suggests, so when a new family moves into its only abandoned mansion, Raven Madison can't help but be curious about her new neighbors. As the town's token goth girl, Raven finds solace in the arms of Alexander Sterling, the tall, dark, and handsome son of the new family in town. But Raven soon discovers that Alexander may have some bone-chilling secrets.

    Back before the Borders Books in my hometown became a Marshall's, (I didn't know there was a Thrift Books, a-hem) I would spend hours browsing the bookshelves trying to find new things to read. And on one such occasion I stumbled upon Ellen Schreiber's Vampire Kisses series. Again, I was in middle school, and this was before Twilight came out so a vampire romance story was entirely new and thrilling. The series was also adapted to a manga form, and I remember reading the manga copies over and over again. There is a distinct age difference between the cartoons and the actual books, the manga versions being for a younger audience.

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