Revisiting the YA Books of My Past
Recently, I’ve taken to browsing through the book sections of my favorite thrift and consignment stores. Quite often, I find copies of bestsellers in both paperback and hardcover that I wouldn’t mind purchasing for my home library, but those aren’t exactly what I’m looking for. In the past year, I’ve revisited a love of writing and reading children’s literature, and part of that rediscovery includes searching for copies of the books I read and loved as a teenager.
My journey started when my daughter started reading more advanced middle-grade books, and it hit me that I could probably write one of my own with a little research. I began scanning the juvenile fiction shelves at the library, where I picked up the vaguely familiar Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. After spending a tear-filled afternoon reading it, I was hooked. I whooped with joy when I found a used copy of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? by Judy Blume at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. (I hid that one away for now, as my 9-year-old daughter is not quite ready for the subject matter yet!) It even had the same cover I remember from reading it as a child. I posted a photo of my find on Facebook and it sparked many comments from girlfriends, who all had a personal connection with the book. The first e-book I bought on my new Kindle a few weeks ago was Daughters of Eve, written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Lois Duncan. Daughters of Eve was one of the only books of Duncan’s I had never read, and I was surprised to find out that it had been updated to have a more modern feel, as have many books in her catalogue of titles.
When I was a teenager, I had stacks of paperback books by both Duncan and Christopher Pike, my two favorite suspense YA authors, along with a weathered complete collection of the Trixie Belden mystery series that my grandmother discovered in storage and gave to me. I carried them all with me for years, but somewhere along my many moves they were lost. It makes me sad to think that I probably donated them, not knowing how much I would want them back one day as I pursued my dream to become a published novelist.
I’m not sure why I’ve been feeling such a sense of nostalgia regarding these lost books lately. It might be because I first dreamed of becoming a writer while reading those treasured books, and after their loss, I spent many years thinking that becoming published wasn’t in the cards for me. Now that I’m finding success as a writer, the memory of all those stories continues to provide me with hope and inspiration, so I’ll keep looking for my old favorites in secondhand bookstores every chance I get.
Who were some of your favorite young adult authors?
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who blogs at Renee's Pages.