If you’re into YA lit you probably heard about the new Lizzie Skurnick line of reissues. She is bringing back older YA books, much to the delight of YA fans everywhere. Not only that, but you can get a subscription and get the new books as they come out each month. For Christmas Paul got me a subscription! The first four books I’ve gotten are: Debutante Hill by Lois Duncan, A Long Day in November by Ernest J. Gaines, Me and Fat Glenda by Lila Perl, and To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie by Ellen Conford. Interestingly, I think I’ve only ever read Me and Fat Glenda. I’m excited to read a Lois Duncan that will be new to me. I have to admit that the Ernest Gaines book feels a little out of place and too literary. The packaging of the books is quite nice-new covers, but they fit and aren’t excessively modern. The spines all match so you have a matched set on your shelf, and the paper is nice and smooth and so much better than that of the original 30 year old paperbacks I’ve got in my library! I began with the Ellen Conford book-she’s an author I know I read as a teen, but not this title.
This book was originally published in 1982, but it is set in 1956. So reading it now nothing seems particularly dated or hokey because the dated elements are part of the story and setting. Teenage Sylvie has been fending off the advances of foster fathers basically since she hit puberty. She has naive dreams of going to Hollywood to be a big star, which are fueled by the movie star magazines she reads and the scrapbook she fills with pictures of James Dean, Tab Hunter, and Natalie Wood. She finally makes her big escape from her foster home and buys a bus ticket to Hollywood. I really enjoyed the details of the era-the prices of things, her toilette, what she wears, just how poor rural Kentucky was, and bus travel. Sylvie really is quite naive and it’s not surprising when all of her money is stolen leaving her crying in a diner. Kindly Walter, a traveling Bible salesman, flatters Sylvie and offers to drive her to California himself. Sylvie does question getting into the car with a stranger, but does it anyway. And of course, things don’t go well. In addition to being totally naive, Sylvie is also absolutely desperate for love and affection-to the point that she lets a strange boy kiss her immediately. This was a quick read and a total delight. It was a touching story, and even if seemed hard to believe anyone would make all the mistakes and fall for things the way Sylvie does, in my mind it played out just like one of the movies Sylvie dreams of being in.