Welcome back to Paperback Throwback, where I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Come check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in-between— you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.
Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking.
Places for this week’s throwback! Lights. Camera. Action.
For much of the 1980s, Young Adult fiction was stuck in high school, which makes sense considering that’s where its target audience spent most of their time. Series like Sweet Valley High, Seniors, and Sunset High featured ‘average’ teens as they navigated romance and drama with a backdrop of classes, lockers, and extracurricular activities. For the first time in Young Adult history, teens were seeing consistent and sometimes accurate depictions of themselves on the page.
Yet as the ’80s drifted into the ’90s, there was consistently a market for readers looking for something outside their normal experiences. Tossing aside the school setting, series like Med Center, Swept Away, and Teen Angels focused on hospital volunteers, a time traveler, and angels respectively. The intention was clear: teens in extraordinary situations had the same problems as the ones studiously sitting through Calculus and English.
None of these series were perhaps as glamorous as All That Glitters by Kristi Andrews. Andrews, who was probably a team of ghostwriters, turned the spotlight on Shana Bradbury and Katie Nolan, two teen actresses on a daytime soap opera, All That Glitters, as they tussle with backstage drama and even love. It lasted for eight books between 1987-1988.
The second book in the series, Take Two, focuses on Shana. After breaking up with her boyfriend, she quickly rebounds as she eyes a famous tennis star, Kirk, who’s also guesting on the show. However, the stress of working with her grandmother and new costar, Edith, threatens to derail her romantic prospects … and maybe even her career.
It’s pure fluff in the best way possible.
While other series flounder by making their teen characters feel over the top, Andrews finds a way to ground hers even within a show business lifestyle. Yes, Shana is sometimes spoiled, and her near-instant love of newcomer Kirk is exasperating. However, she’s also a complex young woman balancing all the stress of being a teen.
Part of what makes this work is that Andrews provides Shana a compelling foil. Edith, as both grandmother and coworker, is an old pro and constantly presses Shana to improve her acting craft. Rather than the usual stage mother trope, pressing for more fame and fortune, Edith is entirely focused on professional standards. It’s surprisingly refreshing, allowing both Shana and Edith to remain sympathetic.
They might be in a soap opera, but there’s hardly any melodrama. Just pure, bubbly fun.
Title: Take Two
Series: All That Glitters #2
Author: Kristie Andrews
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: October 01, 1987
Classification: Young Adult