Friday, June 13, 2014

Adolescent Life in the 1950s: A Book Review

As I said last time I wrote about this book, Chocolates for Breakfast is a literary treasure. It was published in 1956 by its 18 year old writer, Pamela Moore. The author has a rich and sad history which is worth learning about before or after reading her first novel.

Many people read books to experience a life that is so different from their own. That is one of the reasons that I picked up this book and those people who read to experience will love this book. The main character, Courtney, is followed through her final days at boarding school in New England, to Southern California where she lives among movie stars, to New York City where she has affairs with heirs and Ivy League graduates.

Courtney's struggles with growing into adulthood, dealing with depression, and learning to understand herself are struggles that every human being should be able to relate to, and Moore so easily displays these problems. The writing is so black and white even though Courtney's emotions and thoughts are not. Moore creates a vivid world where the reader can smell the cigarettes that are constantly being smoked and you can almost feel as hung over as the characters often are just by reading their well-crafted, morning-after dialogues.

The cover design and back cover copy is misleading in my opinion. It makes the book seem like a typical, every day young adult book about teen angst in a privileged society. It's much more than that. It is incredibly and devastatingly realistic. It is perfectly written an never once falters in tone or content.

It's unfortunate that the book was out of print for so long, especially considering its bestselling status in the decade following the publication. Book lovers should collectively rejoice at the fact that Harper Perennial reintroduced this better-than-the-classics novel. Every word and scene will stay in your mind after reading this book and it is incredible to think that it was written by a teenager, although that fact is probably what makes it such a good read.

The author, Pamela Moore.

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