About the Books

Brose and I stopped in at Joe's Grill for a malted on our way home from school the next day. It's funny how hungry we always get by three-thirty - makes it practically impossible to get all the way home without something to eat. Besides, Joe's is the favorite hang-out of the high school crowd. Simply everyone goes there after school, even if they're so broke they can't afford anything but an ice cream cone. The place is always full of noise and color and movement, bright sweaters and plaid skirts and blue jeans, the juke box blaring, the lovely aroma of hamburgers making you drool. - Class Ring, Rosamond du Jardin

The Malt Shop is a tribute page to the great teen romances of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. By no stretch of the imagination could this be a definitive look at this genre—it's more of a sentimental, nostalgic look at books that I (and other ardent fans of the genre) find incredibly charming and comforting.

To paraphrase Linda Young as she commented so eloquently on her Remember WENN web page, fifties teen romance "makes me homesick for a past that isn't even mine." Having grown up in the 1970s, by the time I found these battered Scholastic paperbacks on the shelves of my local used bookstore, the books were already twenty or more years old. However, the wit and humor and endearing, believable characters kept me reading even though the world described was not much like my own.

Now, as an adult, I return to these books whenever I need a little comfort or to escape into a world where things were a little simpler, a world where politics and violence never rear their ugly heads and where the worst thing that could happen to you is that you don't make editor of the yearbook or that your boyfriend breaks up with you. Even that isn't much of a worry, because there's always another interesting extracurricular activity and another intriguing new boy waiting in the wings.

I think the quote above perfectly encapsulates these books: the plaid skirts, the bobby sox, the music, the dancing, the malteds, the walk home through sedate suburban streets covered with autumn leaves, the good boyfriend who would never cheat on you with your best friend (or his best friend, for that matter). Can't you just picture it?

How to Tell If It's an FTR:

How can you tell if you've found a fifties teen romance on the shelves of your local used bookstore? 
  • Is it published by Scholastic Book Service, Berkeley Highland or Tab Books in the distinctive pocket-size paperback of the 1950s and 60s?
  • Is there a girl on the cover in fifties garb--either in a formal dress or casual everyday wear--looking either pensive or laughing (or both, as in the case of Rosamond du Jardin's Double Date)?
  • Does the title include someone's name or some combination of the following words: "date, summer, dream, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, nurse, boy, year, senior"?
If so, congratulations—you've found one! Enjoy!

The book you've found is probably going to fall into one of three categories:
  1. Teenage girl learns about love, or
  2. Teenage girl learns about herself, or
  3. Most frequently, a combination of the two.
Sometimes narrated by the girl, sometimes written in third person, this book will be the story of this girl and the not-so-tough troubles that she goes through until she reaches the happy ending. These girls seem to share certain characteristics--check out Heroines & Dream Dates for more about our heroines and the boys who send them into such dizzy turmoil.

Although these books are sadly out of print, one publishing company is reprinting these books in attractive trade paperback versions. Check out Image Cascade Publishing for more information.