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Books you read as a child and teenager and look back now and think WTF???

(636 Posts)
ABypassRunsThroughIt Mon 19-Feb-18 19:16:39

As a young girl of 11 or 12 I remember devouring the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal, having graduated from the SV Twins series. Yeah, they were fun to read but I look back now and think WTF was I reading? Every book beginning with how the Wakefield twins are "a perfect size 6." And how Robin is rejected from Jessica and Lila's sorority because she is fat. When she loses the weight and becomes a cheerleader, the boys are like "Robin has us throbbin'!"

I been re-reading Enid Blyton's St Clare's books again recently and have noticed how a very fat character was teased for her size and EB writes (paraphrase) "It would have been fine if she had laughed at their teasing and said "I know I am a bit plump but I shall slim down soon!"" I am like What the Actual.....?

I have already mentioned on another thread a totally innapropriate book by Piers Anthony my gran bought for me not knowing how sleazy it was.

So tell me, which books do you remember reading when you were a kid and now you look back and think WTF? I am pretty sure everyone has at least one.

Amortentia Mon 19-Feb-18 19:20:49

Flowers in the Atic, dear god the premise for the whole series was very grim. I’m sure there was another Virginia Andrews series but thankfully I’ve erased it from my memory.

ClashCityRocker Mon 19-Feb-18 19:22:20

Most of the point horror books were pretty dubious.

I thought they were marvellous though.

It was always the boyfriend doing the killing.

And there was always a pregnancy scare.

spankhurst Mon 19-Feb-18 19:23:55

There was a Judy Blume book called Forever (I think) which was quite explicit, we were scandalised!
In one of Enid Blyton's books she writes about a character's "horrid black face"; even at 8 I was very hmm. She also wrote disparagingly about 'gypsies' and pretty much anyone non-British. Even a white American character was ridiculed quite nastily.
But damn, she could spin a good yarn about Islands of Adventure and Faraway Trees! grin

Truthstar Mon 19-Feb-18 19:24:46

Lace by Shirley Conran. Sex sex sex sex.
I was reading it aged 13 🤔!!!!

yawning801 Mon 19-Feb-18 19:25:21

Anything by Blyton. Basically she normalises bullying, and says that if you're not slim, sporty and funny, you're going to be endlessly bullied!

My mum's idea of sex education was to leave Mills and Boons books around the house from when I was about 12.

Taffeta Mon 19-Feb-18 19:27:38

As a young adult I read almost every Agatha Christie - about 60 of the fuckers. I was obsessed!

WTF? grin

HumphreyCobblers Mon 19-Feb-18 19:28:40

I agree about the St Clare's moment, that character is expected to laugh about the abuse she is given. Alma, I think her name was?

There are two Enid Blyton books that beat this hollow though. Six Bad Boys has a boy go to the bad because his mother is too selfish to look after him and goes out to work instead. And The Put Em Righters has a character who muscles his way into a middle class group, despite being a bit common. But it is ok as he realises the error of his ways by the end of the book and resolves to go back to playing with his own kind shock This is presented as him coming to his senses and all the other characters are relieved.

Also a Bunty annual I had where a duchess's baby and a maid's baby were swapped at birth. This was awful because the Duchess baby had low tastes and liked fish and chips and the maid's daughter longed to go to ballet class and have posh jewellery. It was alright in the end as their tastes betrayed them and they resumed their rightful positions.

I simply cannot get over this story now I am an adult!

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 19-Feb-18 19:29:11

Another vote for Flowers in the attic.

Dolphincrossing Mon 19-Feb-18 19:29:25

Sweet Valley was hilarious grin

Flowers in the Attic was just confused I read My Sweet Audrina at about twelve. Gang rape, autism, murder, incest, spankings and PTSD. So suitable for a 12 year old! grin

Spaghettio Mon 19-Feb-18 19:29:59

Oh yes - Virginia Andrews. The whole Flowers in the Attic series. It's scary that my mum thought that was appropriate at the age of 12...shock

wrimad Mon 19-Feb-18 19:32:29

Yes to the Virginia Andrews stuff - my friends and I all read it around the age of 12. Almost beggars belief that our parents thought this OK

MyBrilliantDisguise Mon 19-Feb-18 19:32:55

Dennis Wheatley books - I remember reading them all when I was about 11.

Stories with sexual content about communism, masked as stories about satanism.

Bloody loved them!

MissMary0fSweden Mon 19-Feb-18 19:33:21

YY Flowers in the Attic and the Dark Angel (?) series as well. Where her Pa had syphilis hmm

OlennasWimple Mon 19-Feb-18 19:33:25

I came on to say Flowers in the Attic too.

Incest; child sex abuse; murder... Covered a lot of inappropriate stuff...

Witchend Mon 19-Feb-18 19:36:25

Sweet Valley High and Flowers in the Attic most definitely.

I think Roald Dahl are at least as bad as Enid Blyton for nastiness. But they're much more subtle which to my mind makes it easier to stick in as an "okay" thing to do.

Enid Blyton Mallory Towers are pretty nasty bullying, but it does give a good discussion with the dc though.

Nancy Drew I'd add because a lot of the "information" is a load of total rubbish. Plus it spends a lot of time describing what she wears and how beautiful she is (and not Bess who's "plump"). And she is always brilliant enough to look professional at anything she tries casually and at the end everyone says "Nancy did it all" even when it isn't true. Makes me hmm

There was a book I read from the library about a child whose dm gets together with a guy who has a little boy and he's clearly (looking back) totally abusive. Not in a 80s acceptable discipline way, really bad. And my memory of it is that it's done in a "children surviving against all odds" story with him ending up being accepted as her df-but still clearly abusive. Now where was that going?

And there's bit of the Little House books that make me hmm which I never picked out as a child.

SmartyPants0 Mon 19-Feb-18 19:37:10

Omg... another vote for flowers in the attic...

MissMary0fSweden Mon 19-Feb-18 19:37:28

Oh was it Dark Angel, or was it Heaven?

Clearly cba to google.

LadySainsburySeal Mon 19-Feb-18 19:38:26

Definitely Flowers In The Attic. Weird as fuck. I think I was 12/13 when I read that gem.

JustPutSomeGlitterOnIt Mon 19-Feb-18 19:38:33

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.
It ends with the main character, a teenage WW2 refugee, in a sexual relationship with her cousin.
And the line 'And that's how I live now.'

As though the reader's supposed to go 'Aaaah yes, jolly good.'

No! WTAF!

ImTakingTheEssence Mon 19-Feb-18 19:39:06

Yep another for flowers in the attic. My aunt gave me hers to read i must of been 12 at the time confused

Arsenicinthesugarbowl Mon 19-Feb-18 19:39:15

I read all the same Virginia Andrews stuff but I also remember a book by Nina bawden called the devil by the sea. It was about a little girl who witnessed another little girl being led away to her death. I’ve never forgotten it and read it a few times when I was around 10 shock

MissMary0fSweden Mon 19-Feb-18 19:40:53

I read loads of Catherine Cookson as well, lots of South Shields lasses getting a bairn put in their belly.

Witchend Mon 19-Feb-18 19:46:37

The Put Em Righters has a character who muscles his way into a middle class group, despite being a bit common. But it is ok as he realises the error of his ways by the end of the book and resolves to go back to playing with his own kind This is presented as him coming to his senses and all the other characters are relieved.

I don't think this is quite fair. He wants to be with the middle class group because his dm thinks he's too good for the working class. (although it turns out his father is in prison so you wonder whether it's also that she thinks the people his father were friendly with may know and let out and the other children won't know because they didn't know his father too)
He doesn't actually like the group as friends, and doesn't really fit in. So he's being a snob. Him coming to his senses is more he finds a child his own age that he realises he gets on better with, and he doesn't have to pretend he likes the others simply because he thinks himself too good for other children.

Because of the era it is written with the class divide-as there was back then, but you could write the same basic story with something else-a child doing football because they see it as a better sport and sneering at rugby and at the end realising that they get on better in rugby.
I don't actually like that book as it's a bit of a caricature in all the children, but most of the "middle class" children he's aspiring to are knocked down as many pegs as he is.

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