Sweet Valley High (any title): You had an older sister. Depending on how much older she was, you found the books thrillingly racy or strangely foreign. Either way, your favorite part was always the opening description of the twins’ appearance. You can still recite their measurements like beads on a rosary. Five foot six. Perfect size six figures.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: You once told your best friend at her eleventh birthday party that she was boring, completely unprompted, then refused to apologize. You never apologize, even when you wish you could.
Little House on the Prairie: You were perfectly normal in every way.
Caddie Woodlawn: Secretly, you found the girls who liked the Little House books juvenile.
The Hatchet: You fell mutually in love with the co-captain of the basketball team your sophomore year of high school, but did not come out for another four years. You occasionally test yourself in private to see if you can still do ten pushups in a row, just in case. Not that anything bad is going to happen, or that pushups will be what helps you survive if it does. But just in case.
Harriet the Spy: Your overtures at friendship never came across in the warm and offhand way you imagined they would in your head. The word your classmates used most often to describe you was “weird.” You weren’t liked and you weren’t disliked. You were “that weird girl,” and no one ever asked you what you were thinking.
The House on Mango Street: You moved a lot, too often, and hated it. Now that you have a place of your own you can’t help buying something new for it almost every week; a mirror, a plant, a puzzle. It runs into money but you don’t mind.
Babysitter’s Club (any title): Your best friend since the second grade suddenly and without warning stopped talking to you the summer before junior high. After college you received an unexpected Facebook friend request from her. When you saw her picture, you immediately began to cry, even though you had not thought of her in years.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: For reasons that you can no longer recall, you spent the better part of fifth grade telling the most outrageous lies to anyone who would listen. You told your teacher that your grandmother had died, not to get out of any schoolwork but to see what her response would be. You affected a Southern accent for a week at summer camp, then dropped it without explanation.
Anne of Green Gables: This is still your favorite book. For better or for worse, it will always be your favorite book, no matter how much you talk about George Saunders or Wallace Stegner.
The Giver: You had a pet that died at a very formative point in your childhood. After its death you insisted upon carrying around a clump of its fur in a Ziploc baggie, even to sleepovers, until the other girls stopped inviting you to their sleepovers and your mother started to hint tactfully that maybe it would be a good idea if you kept the baggie in a “very special” place in your room that you could visit whenever you wanted. Three days after you gave in, the baggie disappeared. You knew it was her. You even knew that you should have been angry; instead you were relieved. You had been feeling guilty for days that you weren’t as sad as you had been, and you found the burden exhausting.
A Wrinkle in Time: You studied abroad in college – for several years you insisted upon calling it “university” but time eventually cured you of that – where you briefly flirted with the idea of converting to something a little more High Church. Possibly Catholicism. More likely Episcopalianism.
Where the Red Fern Grows: You have never lived in the country or grown anything in the ground, but like to think that you would do a very good job of running your own farm someday. Nothing ambitious, nothing big, just a few cows, some chickens, maybe a goat. A vegetable garden, maybe. You work at a desk.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond: You find a perverse pleasure in feeling misunderstood and shop often at Free People.
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