Revisit Classic Teen Novels

Debates still rage about what book counts as the first official novel for teens, but most folks agree that S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, written when the author was only 16, was the first young adult book to majorly impact pop culture. If you haven't seen Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 movie version with its dreamy Brat Pack cast, watch it right now!

So what other teen classics have stayed gold? I'd argue that Judy Blume's Forever, which encouraged honest conversations about consent and body positivity, is still relevant today. It showed that two teens could fall in love and have sex for the first time without anything tragic happening.  

Another groundbreaking love story that readers still enjoy is Annie on My Mind. The romance between Liza and Annie, set in New York City, earned its place in YA history for being the first lesbian story with an upbeat ending. 

Perhaps the 1980s punk style featured in Weetzie Bat hasn't aged well, but the novel's unique language and lovable, diverse characters make it worth reading. Francesca Lia Block always brings a great sense of joy to her books even if they cover heavy topics.

Walter Dean Myers also tackled topics that few other authors of his generation did. It's tough to argue that any teen book is superior to Monster, the classic award-winning tale of an African American teen on trial for murder.

For a lighthearted look at young adult literature of the 1980s and 1990s, check out Paperback Crush.

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