If you’re a female who grew up in this country during the 1980s, odds are good that you lived in fear of scoliosis checks. The impact a back brace could have on a teenager’s social life was made very clear to me by Judy Blume in her book Deenie.
But what if, instead of growing up in New Jersey under the watchful eye of a controlling mother, Deenie had been born in Soviet Russia to inattentive bohemian parents?
What if Deenie’s spine curvature got her sent to a school-sanitorium where life’s disappointments brought out a bit of an impulsive mean streak?
That alternate universe Deenie might look something like Kat Knopman, the sympathetic but prickly protagonist of Mannequin Girl by Ellen Litman.
Part of what I love about reading 80s coming of age stories, is recognizing my own experience in the lives of characters in fiction. The other part is reflecting on how much of these experiences of a common era are colored by things like geography, race, politics and maybe just simple circumstance.
Were you an 80s child, or just interested in coming of age stories set in not so far removed historical times? Check out my list for more tubular tales from different points of view.