Posted by: fireweaver | November 8, 2007

aaah, childhood

a post on today’s Jezebel (yeah, there was some non-monkey time going on today, what with me not feeling the need to attend other people’s lab meetings) asks what your fave tween-age books were. the comments are hilarious as usual on that site, with plenty of people reminiscing on the scandalous things they were reading at the time that their mommies didn’t exactly sanction (to wit, VCAndrews’ ‘flowers in the attic’ et al, which were my guilty pleasures in h.s., not jr.high). but, yes, there were, i’m sure, plenty of things i was reading that were shockingly NOT age-appropriate, mainly since i was a super precocious little reader (thanks mom!), and had full access to both the public library (they don’t card ya for rated r stuff there) and my paternal grandmother’s bookshelf.

i remember quite clearly being circa 6th grade and hauling the enormous tome ‘clan of the cave bear‘ down from that shelf. i mean, hey, pretty picture, adventure story about a chick, and the title indicated some involvement with animals, so it seemed like a good idea. well, Ta (dad’s mom was TaTa (and yes, i know that is hilarious now, go to hell) because we couldn’t prounounce her name Alta, and thusly g’pa got to be PawPaw to match the syllabic repeat) raised an eyebrow when she caught me 50 pages in, and took away my book until mom got back from whatever errand she was out running. i was quite indignant about the whole thing by the time mom got back. NO ONE had ever taken a book away from me before! mom even forbade dad to use the threat thereof as a grounding punishment (thanks mom, again!), though that did effectively mean there was no good way to punish me as a kiddo. well, the scene upon arrival went something like this:

Ta: “i had to take the book away from her.”

mom, horrified that i’d done something hugely awful: “oh, no, why?!”

Ta: “well, Suzie, it’s just not appropriate.”

mom, befuddled: “she reads whatever she wants, all the time.”

Ta, scandalized/befuddled: “well, Suzie, it’s just, well, this book. it has, well. well, sex.”

mom, laughing : “Michelle, if you have any questions about this stuff, just come ask me, ok? here’s your book back.”

the real comedy started the next school year, when i had a book report due. any time we had “free fiction” book reports (instead of prescribed subjects, a biography this time, etc), i’d just write about whatever book i happened to be reading at the time. and the time in question, it was one of the sequels, ‘the mammoth hunters‘.  i will never forget explaining to my 7th grade classmates how the plot involved Ayla, who’d been taught in her former life with the cavemen that she would have sex with any man that asked her, and how that hurt the feelings of her bf Jondalar, who was the guy she really wanted to have sex with in the story.  my abilities to distill decent literature into soap opera trash must have been amazing to my teacher.

so, again, thanks mom, you rule.  i’m totally well adjusted today, and still reading like a crazy person.



  1. I remember my 7th grade geography teacher caught me reading me in the back of the class. She made me parade up to the front of the room and hand her the book, in front of everyone.

    So I walked up that long aisle between desks and handed her ‘1984’. She looked at the book, looked at me, looked *back* at the book, and returned it to me. “Carry on” she said. I went back to the back row and kept reading (because it was at a pretty high tension point).

    I was just so relieved that she hadn’t caught me the week before, when I was reading one of Heinlein’s juvenile titles..

  2. I was all over VC Andrews starting in 5th grade, so I think my “inappropriate” level was maxed out quite early. In middle school/junior high (remember, my mom was dead by then, so I was on Rick’s Wife #3), I’d steal stuff from her shelves, like “The Concubine” (a book about Ann Boleyn). I really had no limits because I was left to my own devices (and you know I can read like the best of ’em).

    My youngest step sister deflected my dirty book reading by getting me To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Hobbit… Ah the good times.

    Even if she had lived, I know dear ol’ mom would have let me read away. My mother never once took away a single book. If I wanted to read it, she bought it, never questioning it, because I was a big girl and reading is always good.

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