All-Time Best Young Adult Books from the '80s
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Double Love1 of 9
By Edan Lepucki
When we were in middle school, Sweet Valley High was how we imagined high school would be—if we had great hair and an identical twin. The first book in the series, published in 1983, concerns the Wakefield sisters' crush on cute basketball star Todd Wilkins. When Jessica, the outgoing sister (read: the bitchy one), tries to steal Todd's attention from shy sister Elizabeth, she ends up in the clutches of high school drop-out Rick Andover. This book is like cotton candy—easy to consume and just as nutritious.
Just as Long as We're Together2 of 9
There is perhaps no one better at adolescent, coming-of-age fiction than Judy Blume, the author of Blubber, Are Your There God? It's Me Margaret and Deenie (just to name a few). This 1988 book about friendship has all the awkwardness and innocence that comes with being 12. Extra points to Ms. Blume for writing an unforgettable first menstruation scene.
Jacob Have I Loved3 of 9
This Newbery Medal-winning novel about sibling rivalry will be as meaningful to you now as it was 20 years ago. Louise has always grown up in her beautiful twin sister Caroline's shadow, and her struggle to find her own place in their small fishing community on Chesapeake Bay is honest and relatable—and easily stands the test of time.
Stranger With My Face4 of 9
It may be thrilling when someone tells you they saw your doppelganger at the mall, but what if that doppelganger was really your long-lost sister, trying to sabotage your life? This is the incredible yet riveting premise of Lois Duncan's 1981 novel, about 16-year-old Laurie and her evil twin, who is hell-bent on going Single White Female on Laurie's until-then perfect life. This book ends (spoiler alert!) with a gasp-inducing plot twist that includes astral projection. Be prepared for this one to hijack your whole weekend.
This Place Has No Atmosphere5 of 9
This family-drama-meets-science-fiction story takes place in 2057, when 14-year-old Aurora Williams must move to a small colony on the moon after her parents get a job there. Originally published in 1986, this book gets a few things wrong (the kids buy CDs at the local record shop, for instance!), but most of it will still resonate with the 14-year-old in all of us.
Anastasia Krupnik6 of 9
Before we were corrupted by notions of high school dances and football players and fitting in, there was 10-year-old Anastasia, a budding poet with a trusty green notebook in which she scribbles her feelings for the boy who never looks her way. Meanwhile, her parents are about to have another baby, and barely even notice her anymore, of course. It's pre pre-teen angst , complete with a list of likes and dislikes at the end of each chapter.
The Babysitters Club7 of 9
The four original members of the babysitters club—Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey—could very well have inspired the ladies in Sex and the City. Whether you identify with bossy but capable Kristy or shy but kind Mary Anne, you'll revel in the drama of these young entrepreneurs. Remember the candy Claudia hid all over her room? Remember when California-transplant Dawn joined the club? Remember junior members Mallory and Jessi? If you can handle the nostalgia, start with the original book, Kristy's Great Idea, and then skip right to Boy-Crazy Stacy, an indisputable classic.
Girl With Silver Eyes8 of 9
An early predecessor to today's teen vampires and werewolves, Katie, the heroine of this 1980 fantasy novel. can read the minds of animals and make things move just by looking at them. And, yep, she's also got silver eyes. Her search to understand why she is the way she is, and if there are others out there like her, naturally appealed to us during our misunderstood outsider phase—which was pretty much all of middle school.
Homecoming9 of 9
The first book in the Tillerman Cycle Series (which includes Dicey's Song), this book depicts the journey of four children abandoned by their mom in a Connecticut mall parking lot. When the oldest, Dicey, leads her brothers and sister to their rich aunt's house, the four siblings must learn to survive without adult supervision, or money. Sure, the premise is depressing, but this is one of those scrappy orphan stories we loved as kids.
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