Teenage Marriage: Coping With Reality By Jeanne Warren Lindsay

If you know a married teenager, you will know someone who will read Teenage Marriage: Coping With Reality

Did you overdose on Valentine’s candy? Well, no fear, I am here with the antidote!

Although, to be honest, this book isn’t the trainwreck the title and some of the chapters (“5. People Are Not For Hitting”, “11. Sex Starts In The Kitchen”) would have you hope.

I suspect the publisher really didn’t believe that this tome was going to stop and make teens seriously consider running off and getting married; nor was it going actually help those high school marriages that were already in trouble. This seems more like a cynical sell to schools and libraries to fill out their social-problems quota, a book of cited statistics for 10th graders doing their English class debating unit or 12th grade policy papers (“Pro: The Age of Marriage Should Be Raised to 21”).

Despite this, I can’t really find much fault with the very generic advice in the book. It tells you to talk about finances and division of household labor, which is a good idea for couples of any age. It isn’t even very dated, taking a modestly progressive viewpoint that husbands doing their share of cleaning and childcare should be a given.

Some Highlights: 

One young wife was shocked to find her husband ‘s mother cooked beans in a different way than her mother did. To make it worse, her husband thought his mother’s beans tasted the best. His wife did not agree.

So, yeah, your basic bean-drama. The whole thing is pretty much on this level.

But what do you do if both of you must or want to work but neither wants to get involved in the cooking, cleaning, laundry and other tasks at home?

Uh, I guess you starve to death on a giant trash-pile?

“If your husband was brought up not to do ‘women’s work,'” [psychologist Jean Bayard] advised, “you have to retrain him… It will take some real persistence to stick with it. But if you want to live the kind of life you want, you either have to train him to live that way or find someone who will go along with your sense of fairness.”

Train him! Like a dog, or… I dunno, a homing pigeon?

“Does your man think it is effeminate to sweep the floor or take care of the baby? You may be able to help him understand that it’s a strong man who can handle these things well. ” Jean was tolerant of Dick’s feeling on this matter.

And you know… Dick’s dick’s feelings.

“I’m surprised Lloyd and I are still together- we’ve been through so much. My mom kicked him out several times and he lived in the car. That was hard for me, too.”

That pretty much sums up all of the indignities of being a teenager. Even if you’re married, someone can still make your husband go live in his car.

What redeems this volume as a “Lost Classic”? The inadvertently hilarious black and white photography, which looks like outtakes from A Wild Heartblurry vingettes of Romance Gone Wrong. Trust me, these high school brides have on thing on their mind: murder is the only escape. 

The voices in Shawna’s head are saying that no jury in the world would convict her.

Check out this dude, kicked back in a rocking chair, drinking a beer… watching his wife vacuum????

That is the face of a woman weighing being out in 8 to 10 for good behavior.

Even their prune-faced toddler is unimpressed.

And here we have Dewey, a man with a closet full of trucker hats…

…but who doesn’t own a single shirt.

Plus, your boy-husband is probably stepping out on you with some Orphan Annie-haired chippie down at the local Burger King.

And we can’t forget our cover models, who are pictured in the midst of the adult-task of making a grocery list:

“Can we just-”

“SHH! Babe! I’m trying to think of all the kinds of Pudding Pops!”

“Jesus, Jay, there aren’t that many-”

“YOU MADE ME LOSE MY THOUGHT!”

The Best Thing About This Book: 

Is the survey included so you yourself can find out if you are ready to take the plunge and get married before you can get your Lerner’s Permit, which in my copy was filled out by a couple who are probably AARP members by now:

 

We will return in 2 weeks with more reader requests! 

 

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High Trail By Vivian Breck

Her father lay helpless, his leg broken. No other campers for miles around. How would she get help in time?

This is a reader-request from so long ago I can’t find who requested it or in what context, but I am glad to have finally found a copy to oblige them!

This book was originally published in hardcover by Doubleday in 1948, but the Scholastic reissue from 1966 is the one pictured above… and it (at least initially) fits into the publisher’s format of the era, in which the reader suspects authors were paid by the word

The Plot:  The first couple of chapters are kind of a slog, as Chloe Cassidy uses way too many words inside her head to ruminate upon how happy she is to finally be able to join her father on his annual camping trip into the Sierra Nevadas. Chloe has been waiting since she was four years old for the opportunity, when her 10 year old brother was allowed to accompany their father (who has the extremely annoying nickname of The Old Sourdough, which he is prone to referring to himself in the third person) (SIGH, SCHOLASTIC); while Chloe had been promised that when she turned 10 she would be allowed to attend as well, childhood diseases and World War II intervened, so Chloe is only just now making her first trip at the age of…. well, we don’t know, exactly. Chloe’s age becomes a central mystery of the story and (spoilers) one that doesn’t get resolved! We learn that her brother has graduated from college, so I was initially thinking she was about 16, but by end I was starting to suspect that she was actually in her early 20s. Continue reading

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That Certain Girl By Dorothea J. Snow

It had been common knowledge for several months that the Taylors were moving away from their home on Colfax Street to a big new mansion on Holly Tree Hill…

Another title suggested by a couple of readers during last fall’s run of Whitman-published hardcover novels!

The Plot: This one reminded me both of Beverly Cleary’s YA work (low on the external drama, high on the internal conflict of the heroine) and Julie Campbell’s Trixie Belden series (poor little rich girls rescued by vivacious country-folk; warnings of the dangers of putting on airs). Continue reading

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Baby Island By Carol Ryrie Brink

What would you do if you were shipwrecked with four lively babies in the middle of the ocean?

Continuing with Reader Requests this week, this title comes courtesy of my friend Carrie (author, bird enthusiast, endlessly patient soul in the face of my many philosophies regarding Cold War teenage werewolves…), and she reports:

It’s a grave mystery to me why I liked this so much as a kid. I hated babies then and I hate them now. I did love stories about children alone in the wilderness though, but there are plenty of those that don’t involve unnecessary babies.

I mean, juvenile readers love the very idea of being stranded on a desert island, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Cay, The Black Stallion… uh… Lord of the Flies….

The Plot: Carol Ryrie Brink (best known for Caddie Woodlawn) was the daughter of Scottish immigrants, which adds some helpful context to the excessive pride Mary and Jean Wallace take in their Scottish heritage on every page of the book. Continue reading

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The Girl With The Silver Eyes By Willo Davis Roberts

Katie KNOWS she’s different but she’s never tried to hurt anyone…

Happy New Year! I am starting off 2018 by digging in to my list of reader requests- if there is a book you’d like to recommend (…or remind me that you’ve recommended…) please leave a comment!

Background: Willo Davis Roberts was one of the more prolific writers toiling away in the YA/Middle Reader vineyards of the 1970s and 80s, authoring YA Romances (3 titles in the Sunfire series), social-problem books (including Don’t Hurt Laurie!)  and thrillers such as The View From the Cherry Tree…

The Plot: …and this one, a younger, less gory take on telekenesis than Carrie, that still manages to work in parental abandonment, pre-teen alienation, Big Pharma cover-ups, and (of course!) crappy adults. Continue reading

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We will return the week of January 18, 2018

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Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Special Christmas By Francine Pascal

It seems that nothing can spoil Jessica and Elizabeth’s holiday- until Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield announce the arrival of an unwelcome houseguest…

Background: Sweet Valley High remains one of the most enduring series of its era, leading to numerous spin-off dealing with the Twins at various ages (Sweet Valleys Junior HighSenior Year and University, to name just three), as well as specialized sub-series within the main Sweet Valley High series: your Super Thrillers, Super StarsSecret Diaries, and this week’s selection, a Super Edition.

(A nice intro to SVH can be found here courtesy of The AV Club, but it really pretty easy. Elizabeth and Jessica are twins with matching sparkling aquamarine eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean and perfect size-six figures. Supposedly Elizabeth is the studious one and Jessica is the wild one, but it’s more like Elizabeth is a nagging scold and Jessica is a sociopath. They have about 200 friends, some of whom are “ethnic” and only appear in one book. Elizabeth has a boring but surprisingly volatile boyfriend named Todd, while Jessica has several hundred boyfriends over the course of the series, a worrisome number of whom meet untimely ends.)

The Plot: What’s so special about Special Christmas? Well, mainly that it features the return of the greatest villain the series ever produced, the glamorous New Yorker Suzanne Devlin.

Last seen in Sweet Valley High #11, Too Good To Be True, as the daughter of a wealthy diplomat who is an old college chum of paterfamilias Ned Wakefield, and who is the participant in a “daughter exchange” in which Suzanne visits Sweet Valley while Jessica cons Elizabeth out of the opportunity to visit New York. Upon her arrival, Suzanne lays waste, socially, to SVH by 1. Being nice to people to their face but mean to them behind their back 2. Stealing Elizabeth’s heirloom lavalier necklace and 3. Attempting to seduce Roger Collins, the young, hip English teacher who the reader is always reminded looks like Robert Redford (so… no, not that Roger Collins), and then when she is rebuffed, publicly accusing him of raping her. Somehow, her lies are shown up when class nerd Winston Egbert accidentally-on-purpose spills punch on her at the Big School Dance. Suzanne unrepentently leaves town and no lessons are learned nor morals dispensed. Also Jessica almost gets for-reals date raped by Suzanne’s snobby New York boyfriend, which reminds me that the farther I get away from my 11th birthday the less appropriate it seems for children to be reading these.

The Plot: Didja get all that?

Well, now it is Christmas in Sweet Valley, and Mr. Collins seems like he’s brushed off the shadow of suspicion: Continue reading

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