Up in Seth’s Room by Norma Fox Mazer and Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head

A lively chat about YA books on today’s comments over at IPB, has me thinking it’s time to add a few more YA titles to my posts. So how about some treasures from the Bookshelf?

Up in Seth’s Room belongs on the shelf because it is such a notable book to me in terms of my growing up. I’ll never forget the first time I read it-borrowed from my older cousin while we were vacationing at my grandparents’. I was definitely too young to be reading it as, when I was done reading it, I was left with a few questions about parts of the book I just didn’t understand. I recalling asking my cousin, “What’s “to come” mean?” She directed me to my mother. Whom I asked. So clearly this was one of the first books I read which dealt with boys and girls and sex, which made it fascinating. Further readings when I was older, though, cemented the book as a favorite just for its story (and exotic, slightly dated setting of the Syracuse area in the late 70s/early 80s.

Seth is the older boy (19!) whom the main character (whose name I forget) falls for. Their relationship is sincere, but spoiled by her family’s objectctions to her dating someone so much older and more experienced. Fair enough, he does pressure her to take their sexual relationship much further than she wants to. I remember, though, being pleased that she stands up for herself both to her family and to Seth. Two other random details from this book have always stuck with me over the years: she goes to a concert at the Syracuse War Memorial (where I saw Jethro Tull once), and her father is a long distance truck driver.

Mr and Mrs Bo Jo Jones is a book truly from another era. The story may certainly be difficult for a reader in the year 2007 to relate to, but the bittersweet emotions stand the test of time. July comes from a well to do family. Her family moves in certain society circles and has high expectations for her. They are devastated when July becomes pregnant from a very common boy she has been seeing. The families decide the two must marry, and they do. The whole thing is just so tragically sad–two people not in love enough to be married (the differences between the two just become more and more apparent-especially with regard to intellectual pursuits), not grown up enough to live on their own, and certainly not prepared to have a baby. Add to that the time period which dictated that July immediately becomes a housewife, grocery shopping daily and cooking and cleaning for husband, and she becomes a figure even more trapped in a sad situation. For once, I don’t want to give away everything that happens, I’ll just say that it really is terribly sad and bittersweet and moving. A few particular standout memories that stay with me:

  • July has to buy a fake wedding band and go to a doctor to have her pregnancy confirmed. He is patronizing.
  • On the 4th of July they attempt to bring their families together by inviting July’s in-laws to join her family’s traditional beach outing. Her family is portrayed as being WASPy and snobby, and they resent their very simple traditions being sullied by his crass family’s lawn chairs, radio, and beer.
  • She is named July because she was born on July 4th.

Note: no images to go along with this post because amazon has no picture for Seth’s room and I refuse to put up the new cover they show for Mr and Mrs Bo Jo Jones. You have to see the original, very dated covers, to appreciate the datedness of them. So for now, just enjoy the spines pictured on the Bookshelf above.

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2 thoughts on “Up in Seth’s Room by Norma Fox Mazer and Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head

  1. One scene sticks out in my mind from Up in Seth’s Room, he was painting his apartment and he puts hands on the chicks’ ass and she has go home w/ big ol’ paint hands on her ass. good times! i remember reading this book on the sly when I was 12.

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