I never actually read “Flowers in the Attic” — just the “dirty pages” clearly marked in the well-thumbed copy passed to every single girl at summer camp — but Lizzie Skurnick did. In fact, she reread it, along with more than 60 other books she had devoured in her youth for a Jezebel column called Fine Lines, collected into this enjoyable book.
Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading brings together her columns from Jezebel in a book that’s as much memoir of a seventies childhood as it is a reader’s guide to teen lit…Not merely a re-telling of the stories of classic young adult fare, Shelf Discovery repaints the stories of our childhood much they way our English teachers did their versions of the classics….Skurnick treats the dime store paperbacks with reverence, and in her re-readings, we find messages of feminism, empowerment and sometimes just a simple story to grow older with.
Any author who won the affections of Lizzie Skurnick in her girlhood should count her- or himself lucky. Shelf Discovery is a dizzyingly crowded, joyful hodgepodge of book reports. This is potent nostalgia for girlhoods past; the strawberry scent of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers practically wafts off the pages.
Reading SHELF DISCOVERY is a reintroduction to many of my favorite books and authors. It also allowed me to rediscover myself as a young reader. But the power of the book is not in the nostalgia factor of revisiting books I know and love. Instead, its strength is the dignity it brings to young adult literature and to the act of reading itself. Reading is often viewed as a solitary act. SHELF DISCOVERY is a reminder that reading connects us to other readers and writers, providing a common frame of reference through which we can share our own lives.
Adapted from the popular “Fine Lines” column of the female-centric blog Jezebel.com, this collection of essays offers sentimental retrospectives blended with a little literary criticism on beloved childrens and YA classics, most of which are popular with girls. The essays are written in the frank, effusive style of a well-read best friend, complete with exclamations of OMG. Beyond the fond remembrances of girlhood fictional crushes, however, lie compelling examinations of how spunky heroines and their sometimes controversial but all-too-familiar trials and tribulations helped a generation of readers navigate the perennially perilous waters of adolescence.
Launched from her regular feature column “Fines Lines” for Jezebel.com, this spastically composed, frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on favorite YA novels dwells mostly among the old-school titles from the late ’60s to the early ’80s much beloved by now grown-up ladies. Her suggestions will prove superhelpful (not to mention wildly entertaining) for educators, librarians and parents.