Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss Book Review Goodreads
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Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss Book Review

Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss Book Review Goodreads

Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss Book Review

The lowdown on Goodreads

Publication Date October 30, 2018

Every twenty- or thirty-something woman knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence. Spurred by the commercial success of Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, these were not the serious-issue YA novels of the 1970s, nor were they the blockbuster books of the Harry Potter and Twilight ilk. They were cheap, short, and utterly beloved.

PAPERBACK CRUSH dives in deep to this golden age with affection, history, and a little bit of snark. Readers will discover (and fondly remember) girl-centric series on everything from correspondence (Pen Pals and Dear Diary) to sports (The Pink Parrots, Cheerleaders, and The Gymnasts) to a newspaper at an all-girls Orthodox Jewish middle school (The B.Y. Times) to a literal teen angel (Teen Angels: Heaven Can Wait, where an enterprising guardian angel named Cisco has to earn her wings “by helping the world’s sexist rock star.”) Some were blatant ripoffs of the successful series (looking at you, Sleepover Friends and The Girls of Canby Hall), some were sick-lit tearjerkers à la Love Story (Abby, My Love) and some were just plain perplexing (Uncle Vampire??) But all of them represent that time gone by of girl-power and endless sessions of sustained silent reading.

In six hilarious chapters (Friendship, Love, School, Family, Jobs, Terror, and Tragedy), Bustle Features Editor Gabrielle Moss takes the reader on a nostalgic tour of teen book covers of yore, digging deep into the history of the genre as well as the stories behind the best-known series.

Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss Book Review

If there’s a book to buy for all your book-loving friends, it is Paperback Crush! This book is hilarious, heartwarming & a total stroll down memory lane for readers. Gaby Moss put all of our favorites in one place in this inclusive history of 80’s & 90’s young adult literature.


Jessica & I are total Baby-Sitter Club Fangirls. We had EVERY SINGLE book, we read them, traded & read them again. Countless hours were spent in Stoneybrook. we watched the TV production of Stacey Takes a Stand so many times we can still recite it verbatim. As soon as I heard about Paperback Crush, I knew the BSC would have a role in the book.

Gaby taps into how badass & empowered Jessica & I felt reading about girls our age starting & successfully running their own business. Yes, the idea of 12-year-olds farming themselves out for work, paying dues & staying on schedule is a bit absurd, but it was OUR dream! Each reader could connect with the crew (except Mallory) & traveling through this series with them is one of the highlights of my childhood!

Danger, Sick Lit, Stalkers & Ghosts

So many titles I reconnected with reading Paperback Crush. Remember The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney? I feel like everyone read that in 6th grade. You find your own face on a milk carton & then what? Who the hell are your parents? Kids figuring it out on their own is one of my literary crushes back in the day.

Anyone remember this gem, Die Softly by Christopher Pike? This one was a game changer for me. Jessica read it, said it was good. So I gave it a shot. Now, I was waist deep in Goosebumps & Fear Street at the time, so this seemed like next level stuff for me. Next thing I know, this creepy ass guy is spying on girls in a locker room & captures a murder through his lens. WTF? Then the worst of all things happened. MY DAD FOUND THE BOOK & THREW IT AWAY! Luckily, Jessica understood. I about screamed with glee when I spotted a full-size photo of Die Softly in Paperback Crush. Gaby also features a Q & A with Christopher Pike.

A few other titles that immediately brought me back to my middle school library are Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews, Boys Are Yucko by Anna Grossnickle Hines, It Happened to Nancy & one of my all-time favorites, Our Sixth Grade Sugar Babies by Eve Bunting.


I am Really Into This book! I could honestly talk about it forever. Now, I want to reread ALL the books of my childhood & tackle some of the titles & series I didn’t read. Also, I don’t want to forget the amazing glossary. I used it when my friend Tiffany asked if the Sleepover Friends by Susan Saunders are featured in Paperback Crush. The answer is, of course, they are!

I’m serious when I say Gaby created a yearbook of our literary childhood. I am forever in love with this amazing book!

Don’t forget to listen to Gaby on SSR Podcast!

Special thanks to Gabrielle Moss & Quirk Books for providing our copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.

Let’s connect with books!  We have all of our reviews on Goodreads!

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Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss Book Review Author Bio Twitter
Gabrielle Moss | Twitter

Gabrielle Moss has written for The New Yorker,  Slate,, The Hairpin, The Toast, the New York Daily News, Bitch, and other places. She has hung around a church made of ice, spent the night in a haunted hotel, worn a robotic exoskeleton, and accidentally scalded her vagina in the name of journalism, and she hopes you appreciate her many sacrifices.

She’s features editor at, and author of GLOP: Nontoxic, Expensive Ideas That Will Make You Look Ridiculous And Feel Pretentious (a parody of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP) from Dey St/ HarperCollins. The Hollywood Reporter called it “the perfect holiday gift for that friend who claims she reads Goop for the sake of irony, but has also non-ironically adopted the phrase ‘conscious uncoupling’ into her everyday vernacular.”

You can contact her at

Momma, wife, baker, reader & smart ass. I am Really Into doughnuts, inside jokes, trash TV, pizza, 48 Hours & George Michael.


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