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On the latest installment of Hey YA, Hannah brought out a book that is set in the 1970s, and how that is a period that we don’t see much in YA books. We’ve definitely seen a number of books in the 80s and 90s, especially the last five years or so, but the 70s were less represented.
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That got me to the point and wondered what types of YA were discontinued in the 70s. As you’ll see below, there is a little, if not a lot.
I pulled out a handful of YA books from the 1970s for you to delve into. Also, since I’m scratching my head and thinking about what I’ve read during that period (only two or three of the following!) I rely on publisher descriptions to highlight these. But now I have a goal for 2021, which is to read a little more YA, which was set in the 20th century before the 80s.
Note that these are not YA books written in the 70s, but rather recently written. Yes – and excuse me, because as a baby in the early 80s I know how much that hurts – these books are technically historical fiction. And no, this list is not exhaustive. I know some titles are missing.
Aya by Marguerite Abouet (series)
Ivory Coast, 1978. Family and friends gather at Aya every evening to watch the country’s first television advertising campaign promoting the fortifying effects of Solibra, the “beer of the strong man”. It’s a golden time, and the nation – an oasis of prosperity and stability in West Africa – seems to be driven by something wonderful too.
Who should know that the Ivorian miracle is nearing its end? In the sun-warmed working-class streets of Yopougon, also known as Yop City, the holidays are just around the corner, the open-air bars and discos are filling up and problems of other kinds raise eyebrows. At night, an empty table in the market square under the stars is the privacy that young lovers can hope for, and what happens there will soon be everyone’s business.
Aya tells the story of her nineteen-year-old heroine, the hardworking and clear-sighted Aya, her carefree friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their relatives and neighbors who interfere. It’s an airy and ironically funny portrayal of the desire for joy and freedom and the simple joys and private problems of everyday life in Yop City. An unpretentious and gently humorous story of an Africa we rarely see – spirited, hopeful and resilient.
Be loyal to me by Adele Griffin
How far is also far away for love
Jean: Could it be true? Instead of a summer playing Daphne as a maid, was something else delivered to me – a summer in the spotlight? A summer with Gil Burke and me?
Summer outings and sexy romances were Daphne’s territory. Not mine. I was the one you didn’t choose
I knocked down my hope like a bumblebee and knew it was already too late. I had been stung insanely.
Fritz: People always joked about summer novels because they didn’t last. Summer novels were made of ice cream and cotton candy, intensely sweet before they merged into nothing. But I had never seen Gil as a summer thing.
Gil was my real love, my real first. We were outsiders together, we had each other, we didn’t care that we didn’t belong.
Bones of a Saint by Grant Farley (March 2nd)
Set in Northern California in the late 1970s, this timeless coming-of-age story explores the nature of evil, the art of storytelling, and the possibility of salvation.
Fifteen year old RJ Armante has never seen life outside of his hometown of Arcangel, CA. The blackjacks continue to rule as they have for generations, luring the poorest children into their monopoly on petty crime. They’ve left RJ alone for years … until now.
When the blackjacks knock, they want RJ to chase an old loner. But RJ is at its breaking point. It’s not just about the gang that runs the city. It’s about Charley, his younger brother who is disabled. It’s about Roxanne, the girl he can’t reach. It’s about the kids in his crew for whom there is nothing to live for. If RJ is to resist, he must fight to rid Arcangel of his past.
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Nora Lopez was seventeen years old in 1977 in New York.
After a freezing winter, a hot summer explodes with arson, power failure and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young people on the street at random.
The city is not only a disaster, Nora also has problems of his own: Her brother Hector is becoming more and more uncontrollable by the day, her mother can no longer stop him, and her father is so busy with his new family that he only calls on holidays.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Super is after her mom to pay her overdue rent and her teachers are pushing her to apply for college, but all Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be alone. There’s a cute guy who started working with her at the deli, but is dating even worth the risk when the killer is especially fond of picking out couples who stay out late?
Give me everything you got from Iva-Marie Palmer
It’s 1979 – the age of roller skates and feathered pony, Charlie’s Angels and Saturday Night Fever – and Susan Klintock is a junior high school with lots of sexual fantasies … but not much sexual experience. No boy, at least not one she knows, has ever been worth trying.
That is, until Bobby McMann arrives.
Bobby is smart, he’s charming – and he’s also the coach of the brand new girls’ soccer team at school and 100 percent completely taboo. But Susan decides that she will try to get the team to get close to him anyway. And over the course of a busy season, she discovers that what she wants may not be what she first expected when Bobby McMann walked in the door – and that figuring out who she is means taking risks, both on and off also outside the field of play.
Girls Like Us by Randi Pink
This moving historical novel by YA is set in the summer of 1972 and is told by teenage girls from different backgrounds, but one thing in common: every girl has something to do with pregnancy.
Four teenage girls. Four different stories. What they all have in common is that they are unplanned pregnancies.
In rural Georgia, Izella is wise beyond her years, but burdened with the responsibilities of her older sister Ola, who found out she was pregnant. Her young neighbor, Missippi, is also pregnant but doesn’t fully understand the extent of her situation. When her father sends her to Chicago to give birth, she meets the final narrator, Susan, who is white and the daughter of an anti-election senator.
Half-brother of Kenneth Oppel
Ben Tomlin was an only child for thirteen years. But all that changes when his mother brings home Zan – an eight-day-old chimpanzee. Ben’s father, a renowned behaviorist, uprooted the family to continue his latest research project: a high-profile experiment to see if chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills. Ben’s parents tell him to treat Zan like a little brother. Ben reluctantly agrees. At least he’s not the only one his father is going to question now.
It doesn’t take long before Ben is Zan’s favorite and Ben begins to see Zan as more.
Secret Keeper from Mitali Perkins
When her father loses his job and leaves India to look for work in America, Asha Gupta, her older sister Reet and their mother have to wait in Calcutta with Baba’s brother and his family and their grandmother. Uncle welcomes him, but in a traditional country the three women have to stick to his decisions. Asha knows this is only temporary – only until Baba sends for them. But with little savings and the passing of time, the tension builds up: Ma, who is prone to attacks of sadness, finds it difficult to submit to her mother-in-law and sister-in-law; Reet’s beauty attracts unwanted marriage proposals; and Asha’s promise to take care of Ma and Reet leads to impulsive behavior. What follows is a firestorm of rebuke – and secrets are revealed! Asha’s only consolation is her hiding place on the roof, where she pours her heart into her diary and where she begins a secret friendship with Jay Sen, the boy next door. Asha can hardly believe that it is she and not Reet that is the object of Jay’s attention. Then news of Baba comes … and Asha has to make a decision that will change her life forever.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
In Alaska, 1970, a teenager here is not like a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she cannot hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever really escape where she is from, even if luck strikes. Alyce tries to balance her desire to dance with the life she has always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it is safer to run away than stay at home – until one of them is in dire danger.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled.
More books from the 1970s!