Hoarding is not collection development

Friday Fiction

Every Friday we feature a fiction title that showcases librarian/library themes, pulp fiction, old or odd titles. These aren’t necessarily awful!

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Friday Fiction – True Meaning of Cleavage

The True Meaning of Cleavage
Fredericks
2003

Submitter: I am taking care of a much-neglected teen section at a public library, and I found this little gem in the stacks. The title is enough to make me wonder, but this book also hasn’t circulated since 2005. Nearly a decade on the shelf is long enough. If I ever get a chance to read the book, I’ll be sure to write in and let you all know the true meaning of cleavage.

Holly: Well, the title is certainly “titillating.” (Too far?) At first, I thought this was non-fiction, but thankfully it is clearly teen fiction. The description at Worldcat says, “When Jess and Sari, best friends since seventh grade, begin their freshman year of high school and Sari becomes obsessed with a senior boy, Jess wonders if their friendship will survive.” It sounds like any number of books in teen fiction, actually. I agree that sitting on a shelf for ten years makes it a weeding candidate. (It’s actually been sitting on my own library’s shelves since July of 2012, but has 35 total circulations so it hasn’t met the ax yet.)

More Teen Fiction:

High School Vigilantes

Teen Furries

Taffy Sinclair and the Romance Machine Disaster

Fear Street

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High School Vigilantes – Friday Fiction

The Emerson High Vigiantes
Miklowitz
1988

Paul Ross, nice guy editor of the Emerson High School paper is recruited for the Knights of Honor Society. They are all about justice and want to “clean up” the high school from all the bad elements. In other words, they want to be bad asses, but for a good cause. Of course things get out of hand. Now it’s hard to tell the “good” guys from the “bad” guys. Mom and Dad just don’t understand. Lots of teen drama for everyone

Mary

More Teen Angst:

Teen Furries

Fear Street

This Town is on Fire!

Dad’s not Drunk

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Friday Fiction – Prey

Prey
McDaniel
2008

Submitter: This was recently weeded from a Teen Collection in a Michigan public library. For an author who’s name became synonymous with stories about teens suffering from fatal illnesses (long before John Green published Fault In Our Stars), this one was quite a departure. All things considered, it’s not surprising that it hasn’t checked out since 2011.

Prey puts a simply awful spin on the whole “Hot for Teacher” cliche: High school freshman, Ryan, and his history teacher, Ms. “Lori” Settles (who, I might add, regularly wears tight, revealing clothing and spike heels), meet and pretty much immediately begin a sexual relationship. This seems the sole focus of the book. Moral and legal consequences seem secondary. No lessons are learned and no one is really punished for what transpires. When it finally hits the fan, Lori gets off easy because she is, apparently, mentally unbalanced and because Ryan was of the “age of consent” when much of the, ahem, action took place. Oh, and the lawyer and judge were apparently seduced by how hot she was and took pity on her. Ryan doesn’t really seem to suffer from any real ill effects from the relationship either.

Alternating chapters reveal that the characters have no redeeming qualities at all: Lori tells how she picks a new student each year for such purposes and how she immediately knows Ryan is to be “the one.” Ryan is a pervert, plain and simple–far beyond the typical teen boy hormones. He is constantly talking about Lori’s physical assets, and a final (very creepy) chapter tells how he and Lori are still secretly in touch and how, this time, he is “in control.” Everyone comes across as loose or stalker-ish or both.

For such sensitive and delicate subject matter, this book seemed far too focused on the physical relationship between the characters (and even those are unimaginative). I find it hard to believe we never got any complaints about it from concerned parents. But then, it hasn’t circulated enough for that.

Holly: Maybe it would do better in the adult fiction section. I mean, I’m 40 and I loved Lurlene McDaniel when I was a teenager. It would be better to have more of a lesson to the story if it’s meant for a teen audience, but let’s be honest: there are plenty of hugely popular titles that I wish were handled differently. I think this particular choice from McDaniel might benefit from a more mature audience that likes drama, angst, and controversy in their fiction. Sounds like it really isn’t working in Submitter’s library, but they can rest easy that it is widely available through the Michigan inter-library loan system in case of a Lurlene McDaniel emergency.

More Teen Fiction Travesties:

Friday Fiction – Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date

Friday Fiction – Fear Street

Friday Fiction – The Town is On Fire

Friday Fiction – Paul Zindel

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