The other day I found a little journal that I kept in 8th grade through high school. Looking back at the young girl I
This little book contains a list of books I read over the summer from 2007-2008, my first time using a pilot pen, where I declare “ I love this pen” which is a love that has remained strong and true because it is still the only pens that I use exclusively.
This book provides a snippet into my world as a teenager. While other kids were starting new lists of parties they have attended, boys they had kissed and meeting new people.
The lists that I was keeping were lists about our taco Tuesday orders and who ordered what, and the names and what they borrowed from my home library of movies and books that were always stocked up with new goodies from my job at Used Kids Records.
While those are fun little memories to look back on. The biggest insight that this journal holds for me is what I loved and was drawn to and my internal thoughts as a teenager from the quotes that I wrote down that I loved from my favorite movies and books.
I had always been a kid that was completely absorbed in a story. Reading was my favorite escape and form of entertainment.
I wish I was kidding when I saw that eating my lucky charms at breakfast and carefully going over the Scholastic magazine to finalize some of the picks that I wanted to get. I remember asking my parents for money and the cash or check was in one of those little envelopes that perfectly holds money.
Stories were where I was seeking to learn about the world and where I learned to find myself and spend time in a world with people like me, albeit a fictional one.
I was always so shy and in school, with my family, I was never able to voice some of my opinions and thoughts. My head was filled with things to say, my perspective of situations, funny things I had read. But I was too shy to speak them out loud. This quietness led to me being unknown in high school and not remembered, in an ironically tiny school.
But after looking through the quotes that I took the time to write down it’s clear that I found so many people like me. I felt so seen in those books.
My favorite books were the ones where people would share all the details about what they loved about someone. I was reading everything I could get my hands on from Sarah Dessen, Sarah Manning, Rachel Cohn, and Meg Cabot.
These women showed me that girls like me existed in the world and that there were complicated families like mine and that feeling your feelings was a good thing. They showed me that you could be your true self and that there would be a cute boy that saw you for you.
These women raised me and created worlds that I still think about sometimes even 18 years later.
You know in When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal tells Meg Ryan
“ I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night”
That. I lived and still live for that.
To be so seen by someone that they notice all your little quirks.
The YA novels I was reading in Middle School and then re-reading in high school set me up with an incredibly high standard for love.
While I may have become more cynical as my dating life has yet to live up to these proclamations of love that I loved so much, I am still a hopeless romantic in that I believe that one day someone will write all this out to me. Although my experience with Hinge says otherwise.
Even if the dating experience isn’t accurate for the world I’m living in, the strong women in these stories and the lessons they taught me still live on today.
They taught me to be true to myself and that you don’t have to always be the loud girl if that doesn’t come naturally to you, that you can be strong and soft. Funny and smart. You can be whoever you want to be. I love that my younger self sought out books like this and that I absorbed and learned from these authors.
I recently re-read The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and that book still spoke to me as much at 29 as it did at 12.
So cheers to these women, but also like still waiting for my Wes. IYKYK
What was your favorite YA book?