The MTV Books Blog will close on October 31. Follow us to our new home at YA Outside the Lines on November 1!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My most influential book when I was a teen

Growing up, like many girls, I was a huge Judy Blume fan. But her books were not the only ones that I devoured. One of my favorite books that I read in middle school was The Kidnapping of Courtney Van Allen & What’s-Her-Name by Joyce Cool.
I thought the main character, Jan Travis was so cool. She was off to visit her aunt in New York and was allowed to go sight-seeing by herself! Hello, I was only allowed to walk downtown for pizza, not go see a Broadway play or go horseback riding by myself. Plus she was not afraid to express herself. I admired how gregarious she was as I was very shy in middle school. I thought Jan Travis was living the cool life and I enjoyed every minute of her journey.
Plus, when Jan’s world collided with Courtney’s, we were in for a wild ride and I rooted for Jan the whole way. Courtney was a snotty rich kid, daughter of an actress and politician, but I was secretly living vicariously though her lavish lifestyle. One of my favorite details is that Courtney wore a shirt that said, Drop Dead, for 47 days. That detail stuck out in my mind as one of the best things about the book. It’s funny how the small things stick with you.
When I began writing Shrinking Violet for some reason I was drawn back to this book. Problem was that I had forgotten the complete title. I knew it had Courtney and kidnapping in the title. A quick search on the internet brought up nothing but when I visited my parents, I found the book in our basement.
I thought back to what drew me to this book as I was writing my own teen novel. It was a combination of good writing, humor, adventure and a likeable main character. It’s sad to see that the book is now available on Amazon for just a penny but I’m not giving up my copy! One of the blurbs on the book calls it a lot of fun and that’s what it was—a fun, pleasurable read that stuck with me through the years. A book does not have to be a masterpiece to touch you. It just has to provide meaning in some way. This one did it for me and it’s really nice that it was Joyce Cool’s debut novel.


Jan Blazanin said...

That book is new to me, but the title is intriguing.

Carlie Webber said...

I'm so glad you wrote about The Kidnapping of Courtney Van Allen...! I loved that book when I was a tween and I've never met another fan. I must have checked it out 10 times from the library. Courtney was the sort of terrifically sassy character we all wish we could be and get away with. Now you've inspired nostalgia and I might just have to get over to Amazon and buy it.