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Vintage YA – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank

This is a no brainer. The beautiful crafting of words by the dear Anne Frank is something that everyone should read once in their life. Raw, emotional and up close, Anne doesn’t leave anything out as she confines her thoughts to ‘Kitty’ on growing up in hiding from the Nazi’s during the 1940’s.

Young Adult writers would do best to learn from one of the greatest teenage writers in the world. Her talent within the craft of writing outshines many adult authors. Her story had a bit of everything, mystery; romance, growing up angst and goals.

However, Frank’s story isn’t fiction. Its honesty proves that teens are not alone in how and what they feel. Throughout time the emotions are roughly similar. (granted, this is a big rough)

Frank had such promise. Her diary was only the beginning but the world will always be wondering what else she would have created if given the chance she deserved. 

Vintage YA – March – The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

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Written in 1979 originally in German, this wonderful tale of adventure and fantasy is perfect any age. I chose The Neverending Story because of the movie. Have to be honest about this. I was a HUGE fan of the film growing up, even those it was the first movie that made me cry during the same scene every time I watched it (the loss of Artax – sob). When I learned this movie was based on a book I couldn’t wait to read the original.  

The Neverending Story is just as its title suggests – a story that doesn’t end for our main character Bastian Bathalazar Bux. Pudgy, short and grieving over the recent loss of his mother, this story begins as any other – hiding in a old bookshop from school bullies. However, this bookstore isn’t like any other for it holds The Neverending Story. A large book covered in copper-coloured silk with two different snakes forming a circling by biting each other’s tails.

Nicking it from the shop Bastian hides away in the school attic. The hours fly by as he’s whisked away into Fantastica (the version of the name is different as it’s translated. I’m sticking with my printed version but it’ll always be Fantasia in my mind). It’s a world filled with creatures the likes no one has ever heard or seen before. The world is ruled by the Childlike Empress, she is dying and she sends for Atreyu, a great warrior who will do whatever it takes to save his world. He embarks on an adventure that neither him nor Bastian could ever imagine.

 Yet the story doesn’t end there. When a happy ending is in sights for Fantastica, Bastian enters the book and starts his own adventure by wishing as his heart contents. However, there are rules within Fantastica and Bastian will have to learn what it means to find what one wants from within if he’s going to find his way home to the real world.

I really loved book, I did. Every chapter starts with a big beautiful picture that has a letter of the alphabet. The book can be described as being in two parts: the first part follows the movie (mostly) and the second part follows Bastian’s adventures and struggles within Fantastica. The writing is a joy. Ende is magical with words that describe this world filled with imagination. The characters are engaging, vibrant with plenty left for one to picture within. For those that love the film the first half is wonderful but unfortunately the second half is slightly disappointing and a bit too long.

Nevertheless I am thrilled to have read this book. Watching Bastian process and evolve into such a different character is not what I expected. It’s the core of the book, a simple story about a boy that needs to learn to love himself after losing his mom. The Neverending Story is a book that every reader wants to happen to him or herself. To find a story that one can get literary sucked into. To connect with characters and discover things about oneself, it’s a grand escape novel. It’s a book that changes Bastian for the better and at the end of the day, when readers are young, isn’t that what we want books to stand for? 

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden – February Vintage YA

AnnieThis month’s Vintage YA is very on theme for February! Sadly, I haven’t read this title myself, and my local library doesn’t have it available for check out. (It’s on special reserve or something) I do plan on reading the book eventually, but with a pending move in the works I’m trying not to increase my amount ‘stuff’. Regardless, I feel that this book needs special mention. Here’s the summary provided by Goodreads:

“This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. This book is so truthful and honest; it has been banned from many school libraries and even publicly burned in Kansas City.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.”

I would also like to mention that this book is on my YA Banned Books Bracelet, which I wrote about for last month’s Literary Inspired Item.

I loved the idea of this book. A teenage lesbian story filled with love and heartache. It’s a coming of age story that there are rarely others to compare it too. Everyone experiences love for a first time and it isn’t always with the hottest guy at school, or an undead vampire. This is an example of power to women, in this case, young women on the right to freely express whom they want to love.

This Valentines Day should be celebrated by all of those in love, and with the progression of more states in the US making gay marriage legal, I can only hope that one-day people all over the world can love freely. Thank you Nancy Garden for writing this book and paving the way for girls who love girls to read about others that feel the same way they do.

The Long Walk by Stephen King – Vintage YA

People love to complain that Battle Royale was the original of The Hunger Games. True, both of the stories have similarities: Teenagers being forced to kill each other until one stands as the living victor within a secluded ‘battleground’. BA was published in 1999, HG was published in 2008. However, there is a book that was written before either of these dystopian realities. 20 years prior, Stephen King under the pen name Michael Bachman wrote The Long Walk that was published in 1979. 

The Long Walk

Every May there is a lottery where boys enter their names. 100 are selected to embark on a walking contest until one of them remains. This last survivor is crowned the winner. The winner of the contest receives whatever he wants for the rest of his life.

There are similarities to BR and HG: it’s set in a futuristic time period, technology is used to determine that the boys are walking more than 4 mph at all times and if they try to leave the road they get shot.

Thrilling and horrific, The Long Walk precedes these books that have rocked the world with their cruelty and grief. King, the master of terror has paved the way with this book that was before it’s time. Can King write YA? With this book I think the proof is more than exceptional.

Forever by Judy Blume

I’m doing something new for ashleyisee. Every month I’ll cover a ‘vintage’ Young Adult novel in my eyes. I challenge you to think about some of the choices I make and encourage comments for discussion. YA is a relatively new genre but I want to show that it truly has always been around, it’s just been marketed in a different way.

This month’s vintage YA is none other than the ground breaking Forever by Judy Blume.


Published in 1975, Blume’s simply story of a girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy and girl decides to have sex with boy, was one of the most controversial books of it’s time. I also like to see it as the ‘birth’ of YA. Young Adult fiction was originally categorised as a story revolving around teenage or young adult characters that experience tales of growing up.

Nowadays however, the genre is bombarded with unrealistic romance and every kind of fantasy or science fiction aspect that can be thought of. There isn’t anything wrong with these books, they still are YA, but it’s rare to find a contemporary type of young adult book such as Forever. Is it just as powerful as it was in 1975? I think so. Is it as tantalising and scandalous? Unfortunately not. However, there is one thing that makes this story timeless and that is how her main character Katherine falls in love. At times it isn’t logical, nor is she considering things that truly matter in a relationship, but guess what, she’s a teenager and that’s what they do.

Thank you Judy Blume for opening the door to teenage fiction. To paving the way for young love to find a voice.