You Never Forget Your First Love

FirstLoveLogo If you are even remotely tapped into the world of books – which you most likely are given that you’re reading this at a book review site – you know that Young Adult fiction has been hot for the past few years. Indeed, YA titles are everywhere you turn, and I personally think that this is fantastic. I may be long past my YA years, but I’m a YA at heart.

While YA might not have existed in the same form back in the 1980s when I was a true YA, there were certainly books aimed at us YA folks. Books like The Outsiders by SE Hinton and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier are classics today, and many of us had our formative years validated by the works of Judy Blume, Paula Danziger and their contemporaries. However, many of my fondest reading memories involve curling up on a warm summer afternoon with something a lot lighter and romantic. While I cut my romance teeth on grown-up novels by Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey and Rosemary Rogers, I credit my real love for the genre to the category books aimed directly at the teens of the 1980s. Leave it to Silhouette Books (later acquired by Harlequin) to consistently tap into the young adult market some twenty-five years before the rest of the world.

Every month, my friends and I would haunt the bookstores waiting with baited breath for the new First Love from Silhouette titles to hit the shelves. With four new books issued every month, we’d snatch them up, devour them, trade them with each other, and then start all over again. While all stories centered on a romance, First Love books also contained themes that are timeless, as applicable to teens today as they were back in the 1980s. Popularity, friendship, finding out who you are, dealing with parents, school pressures, and a host of other teen issues were tackled in the 236 titles released between the fall of 1981 and spring of 1987. The books didn’t shy away from some particularly difficult topics. One book – Janine (#145) – dealt with the first months after having a new baby. In Golden Girl (#17), heroine Tobey must cope with her boyfriend’s debilitating accident. For every interest out there – horseback riding to karate to cooking – there was a story for you.

I have about twenty copies of the old Silhouette books on a shelf, and there are a handful that I still pull out to this day for a quick, sweet, comfort read.

AlabamaMoon

 

My favorite of them all has to be Alabama Moon (#60) by Brenda Cole. Stacy is horrified when her parents announce that they are getting a divorce. But her life gets even worse when they inform her that they are sending her to spend the summer on her aunt’s farm in Alabama. City-girl Stacy can’t imagine what she’s going to do on a farm. As an only child, living with her young cousins is a huge adjustments, as is getting up at the crack of dawn, the constant list of chores that need to be done to keep the farm running, and trying to stay out of the way of surly Lane, Stacy’s “kissing cousin” who sees her as pretty much useless. But when Stacy’s Aunt Sara breaks her leg, Stacy finds out that she has the strength to step up and do what’s needed to get things done. Slowly she makes friends and earns the admiration of Lane. Before she knows it, the summer is over and it’s time for Stacy to return to her old life. She’s just not sure if she wants to.

 

 

APassingGame

 

Tobey, the heroine of A Passing Game (#74) by Beverly Sommers, loves one thing – playing football. She’s realistic enough to know that, at least in those days, a girl can’t play positions where she might get tackled. But that’s okay, because Tobey’s true skill is in kicking the football over the goalposts. When she makes the high school team, she’s thrilled that her dreams seem to be coming true. Even better, cute, popular quarterback Wynn seems to be interested in her off the field as well as on. Sure, not everyone seems thrilled to have her on the team, especially her lifelong nemesis Billy Rafferty. But Tobey’s not about to quit, especially after scoring her first goal.

 

 

 

OneOnOne

 

One on One (#36) by Pam Ketter tackles the timeless teenage issue – popularity. Jana has worked so hard to cultivate her popularity, and she’s finally made it to the top of the social ladder. Everything she does is carefully orchestrated to maintain her image. The last thing she needs is to become involved with a nobody who wears off-brand clothes and doesn’t seem to care what people think about him. But Brian Baylor is a hard guy to forget. Jana has to figure out what’s more important, being true to herself or being what other people tell her she should be if she wants to be popular.

 

 

 

 

OneOftheGuys

 

In One of the Guys (#98) by Kathryn Markis, heroine Kelly has always been a tomboy, just “one of the guys” who can’t imagine herself ever being as feminine as her best friend, Kristel. When she meets Brook Barrett in her karate class, she just assumes that he will see her as another buddy, not as a potential girlfriend. So why does it bother her so much when she thinks that Brook might be interested in Kristel? And why are some of her best guy friends suddenly acting so strange around her?

For a list of the titles in the First Love from Silhouette line as well as some interesting statistics, including information about some of the authors, this site has a lot of information. Were any of you fans of this line? What were some of your first YA romance reads?

- Jenna Harper

11 thoughts on “You Never Forget Your First Love

  1. Gosh, I don’t even remember that line of books.

    I don’t know if it was ever technically considered a romance but it was definitely young adult and I thought it was a love book: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt.

  2. Growing up I didn’t like YA reads. During my junior high days I read books like Kay Thorpe’s “Lord of La Pampa” or older books like “The Sapphire Pendent” by Audrey White Beyer. I also read a lot of Rosemary Sutcliff , Victoria Holt, Gladys Malvern and Phyllis A. Whitney in those days.

    When I was in high school I was historicals all the way -my favorite was Kathleen Woodiwiss. Robyn Carr wrote some historicals back then, one of which is still a favorite.

    Sutcliff and Malvern are excellent writers and I can still read their works. I still like the Carr’s. Haven’t picked up a Whitney in while but I bet if I did I would still like her :-) Holt didn’t work for me the last time I read her.

  3. You’ve brought back good memories. I’ll never forget those or the sunfire historicals and their was one more series but I can’t remember the name. I think it was something like sweet heart or sweet valley. I don’t know but they always had a girl on the cover. They were really good.

    • Are you thinking of Bantam’s Sweet Dreams line? I know they were popular with a lot of readers for a long time. I wrote five of their titles from 1991 to 1995 which, believe it or not, are still around in foreign language editions. And I still get fan mail from WRONG-WAY ROMANCE, 22 years after its release.

      marilyn s.: You’ve brought back good memories.I’ll never forget those or the sunfire historicals and their was one more series but I can’t remember the name.I think it was something like sweet heart or sweet valley.I don’t know but they always had a girl on the cover.They were really good.

  4. I had a First Love Silhouette I loved – the hero and heroine worked together on the lighting crew for all the school plays. Light of my Life? Something like that. It was so cute.

  5. My favorite was called Teach Me to love by Wendi Davis. It had two teens falling in love while they starred opposite each other in a production of Henry V. It also had a love triangle because the brainy girl was being pursued by a popular jock who ended up using her to write his school paper for him. Oh the drama!

  6. Yes. Sweet Dreams was the name of the series I was trying to think of earlier. I remember I used to bring 2 to school with me so as soon as I finished one I would start the next one. They were quick reading. I also remember the Wildfire line too. Wow, the memories!

  7. Bantam books used to have a line called “Love Stories”
    I used to devour those, just looking at the hot pink tab on the top indicating the series was enough to make my young adult heart flip

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