Really? This is fundamental?

In elementary and middle school, we had the RIF (Reading is Fundamental!) program. Every once in a while, the RIF people would show up with a truckload of free books, and each of us got to pick something up, to keep forever and ever. And man, they had the goods in terms of preteen paperback cheesy goodness.

So, I just dug up a bunch of my RIF books at my parents’ house, y’all! And I have decided to re-read one. But which one? That’s where you come in. Please tell me which one to read, and dagnabbit I will. Kay?

The candidates!

1. The Secret Life of the Underwear Champ (wherein, judging from the cover, the Underwear Championships involve a baseball bat and are televised).
2. The Great Lakeside High Experiment. I think this is Eliza Doolittle-ish.
3. The Wrong Boy. Cover photo: angry cheerleader being arm-grabbed by burn-out wearing a denim tuxedo.
4. Phone Calls. Mulletted maiden makes phone calls! News at eleven!
5. But This Girl Is Different. Tagline: how trusting should she be? Cover art: Wayne Gretzy-lookalike in a basketball outfit standing with a high school girl in business casual who is carrying a clipboard, which is totally high school, just totally.
6. But In The Fall I’m Leaving. Cover: Dark haired Melissa Sue Anderson looking fucking PISSED.
7. Waiting Games. Sequel to the bestseller called Sooner or Later, which was made into a tv movie of the week, for Pete’s sake.
8. Temporary Times, Temporary Places. Cover: girl looking lovingly up at a JC Penny’s male model from the teen boy section circa 1982, wearing Sans-a-Belt slacks. Rowr.
9. Blissful Joy and the SATs: a Multiple Choice Romance. That is so Teri Garr on the cover.
10. Second Chance: Could She Leave the Past Behind? I don’t know about that, but she definitely needs to leave that frilly blouse behind.
11. Fridays. All y’all on this cover look freaky. Zombie clique girls, stalker girl trailing behind, and two scary thugs in the back. Yikes.
12. The Trouble with Thirteen. This one is giving off a Square Pegs vibe, am i right?
13. The Great Boy Chase. Pastel triangle sweater vest girl uses cartography to chase boys! With bonus neckerchief!
14. Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade. I’m sensing a rip-off of Judy Blume’s “Blubber,” but i could be wrong.

Which one, friends?
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  1. I remember reading Nothing's Fair in the Fifth Grade…and liking it! So that's my vote. It was a tough choice between that and The Great Boy Chase just because of the awesome sweater vest..

  2. The Trouble With Thirteen was one of my favorites. I say read that one! However, Fridays looks pretty tempting, too… you should have a contest where winners get the RIF book of their choice.

  3. Pass on the Secret Life of the Underwear Champ. I think that was about a kid who starred in a commercial and didn't realize the "whole world" i.e. kids from his school, would see him in the undies he was advertising. I remember reading both books that were recommended by others and can't choose between them. Such quality! Such angst! Such mall bangs!

  4. Although I know we haven't had any of our legendary calls recently, I think we could have written a chapter or two in that PHONE CALLS book. That cover cracks me up!

  5. OMG. First of all, I am fairly certain that I had both "The Trouble with Thirteen" AND "Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade". Also, I did a ton of volunteer work with RIF in college (fellow librarian in training here) and they have progressed since then, as far as reading material goes, lol.

  6. Just de-lurking to say you should definitely read "The Great Boy Chase." But don't stop there because the prequel to this was a book called "10 Boy Summer," and then there was a whole 4 book series after that dedicated to Toni and Jill going off to college. After *cough25cough* years I still have all these books in my basement–I think I'll reread them too.

  7. yeah, the only one i recognize is the Trouble with Thirteen – that one was pretty heavily pushed by the preteen book pusher-people… all i remember is something about the girls having similar names… mia and ami? is that right? who names their child "ami"? i remember thinking that that was child abuse.

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