If you know me, you know I’m not a big reader. I like to write, but actually reading anything longer than 160 characters long that I (nor the Betches) didn’t personally write – not my thing. Perhaps it’s the fear of committing to a story that isn’t in magazine article or news story form… or perhaps it’s because I have no attention span whatsoever… but I just am not into reading books (except like one week a year when I’m living at the beach ).
Back in the day, things were (kind of) different. My mom constantly bought me books, trying to convince me to read them daily. Usually I would read the first and last pages (and the back of the book) and call it a day… but one day my mom introduced me to a type of book I actually would invest time in: series of books written in first person about pre-teen girls going through puberty. OMG, that was like so me. So, I read.
I didn’t do sci-fi, so any of you Goosebumps, Fear Street, and/or Animorph lovers – sorry, but your faves won’t be on this list (that was their honorable mention though). I certainly didn’t do Harry Potter (I fucking hate Harry Potter). And I definitely didn’t do books that were too long (oh the horror of committing). I really only wanted to read books about young girls, like myself, navigating their way through the tough time that is developing periods, boobs, and crushes.
Here are six books you may have forgotten about that I read as a pre-teen:
California Diaries Series
This series was a spin-off of Ann M. Martin’s The Baby Sitter’s Club (which isn’t on this list because you definitely still remember it). Each book was written in diary form by one of the five characters, so you got to read about their lives from everyone’s point of view. The series begins by following Dawn, one of the characters from the Babysitter’s Club, to California where she moved to live with her father and his family. I vividly remember one of the girls being anorexic and struggling in her mind to not eat at a party. I also remember her ordering salad without the dressing on a date and feeling self conscious about eating in front of him. The themes in each book were very real and ‘grown up.’ One of the girl’s parents had cancer and another girl was abused by her boyfriend. It was very serious for my pre-teen self, but I loved it. Oh, and the guy’s name was Ducky. That was also bizarre to me. This series sparked my interest in books that were in diary form (which may have led to my interest in blogging… who knows).
P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More
These book weren’t in diary form, but they were in first person and that was good enough for me. Ann M. Martin returned to the scene again with Paula Danzinger, writing two books that consisted of letters (and later emails) that were sent back and forth between 12-year-old Tara*Starr and Elizabeth (loved the *… so middle school). The two best friends start writing letters to each other to keep in touch when Tara moves away. They chose letters as their communication method because the phone was ‘too expensive’ for ‘long distance’ calls (hehe) and because Elizabeth’s dad didn’t like Tara. The girls were very different from one another, Elizabeth being shy and Tara being outgoing. Something specific I remember from the first book was when Elizabeth’s dad leaves her family and they are forced to move into an apartment complex. Basically, Elizabeth endures all of this serious shit that makes her depressed and Tara is off in her town with new friends having a blast. In the sequel, the girls turn to e-mail which brings their relationship closer (imagine how tight they got when AIM came along?!). In this book, Elizabeth’s dad dies in a car crash and Tara gets a brand new sister. Oh, the drama.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
What I remember from Judy Blume’s 1970 classic is that it was about a pre-teen girl who got her period. What I didn’t realize until right now is that it was actually about a pre-teen girl struggling with religion. Margaret’s dad was Jewish and her mom was Christian, so she didn’t know which religion she should identify herself with… so she, like, spoke to God to figure it out. Weird. Throughout the book, she struggled with other awkward pre-teen shit like buying bras when you have no boobs, using pads because tampons seem scary, and liking boys who have no interest in you. Being twelve is fabulous. It really is. This book is like a bat mitzvah… it’s a right of passage into ‘adulthood.’ Every girl has read it. Including our moms. Side note: I did a book report on this story (awkward) for a male teacher (even more awkward) in the fifth grade. Why?
Just As Long As We’re Together
After reading ‘Are You There God…’ I fell under a Judy Blume spell and read tons (well, tons for me) of books by her. One being this novel (and it’s sequel ‘Here’s To You, Rachel Robinson‘). The book was about another pre-teen girl going through life changes, such as getting her period and dealing with bitchy girls. I loved this shit… and apparently so did Judy Blume because this was basically the same book as above except it was written 17 years later and didn’t involve religion.
The Friendship Ring Series
Another series about pre-teen girls struggling with hormones. This was really my thing I guess. Rachel Vail’s late 90s/early 2000s series consisted of six books – each from the point of view of a different girl (and eventually guy). The series begins with Zoe entering 7th grade, trying to make this girl CJ her BFF. Eventually CJ dumps her current BFF for Zoe, but they make up later on and everyone becomes friends who secretly hate each other. There is also another girl named Olivia who is more mature then her popularity-obsessed friends. I remember when she liked a nerdy boy and her friends made fun of her for it… but, like, that’s what you get for liking a weirdo Olivia. The last book in the series is in the point of view of Tommy, the boy who we already know Zoe likes. In his book, we find out he likes her too. Aww, young love. What a great series.
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging
Oh, snogging. What a word. This book was popular amongst us pre-teens simply because of the title… What is Snogging?! What is Angus?! LOL thongs! This book looks good! Set in England, the novel opened us up to the world of British slang… and crazy British humor. The story was told in diary form (yes!) by a teen named Georgia… and it was mostly about… hooking up with boys AKA snogging. Oh and Angus happened to be a cat, which made the book even more appealing to me (I love cats).
That was the type of stuff I was reading as a pre-teen. The topics were totally relatable unlike the books kids are reading today (vampires are not real and girls would never be successfully stalked for years via text by randoms – and yes, Pretty Little Liars is a book series). But what about young girls developing breasts, periods, and crushes?! That is the stuff they should be reading about before they dive head first into drama-filled fantasy novels. Right? Hopefully girls today are still reading Judy Blume and other horrible, substance-less pre-teen series written in the first person.
What books do you remember reading when you were younger? Leave them in the comments or tweet them to us at @forever20tweets!