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Book: I Know What You Did Last Summer

October 17, 2008
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I love reading novels set in the 70s. How could I tell, even without checking the copyright date, that this book was written in the early 70s?

“…living where she did, in an apartment house full of single swingers, and looking like she did, a living doll, and holding her showy job… He hadn’t planned (to keep dating her). A college man had a wide territory, and there were some pretty sophisticated chicks on the University campus. Then, when she had been handed that job as Golden Girl, it had changed things. A guy would have to be nuts to throw over the Channel Five Golden Girl.”

I had a couple of snickers at that paragraph. Hope the ‘sophisticated chicks’ could handle a ‘college man’ with such a ‘wide territory.’ Especially one who is dating a Golden Girl! (more snickers) You know how those Golden Girls are. My favorite was Blanche. I bet that’s who he’s dating. You know how she is. (okay, okay, a “Golden Girl” is the Channel Five Golden Girl — basically, the glamorous 70s cheesecake weathergirl)

Another favorite quote, from one of the disapproving mothers in the book (about said Golden Girl): “A girl with a shape like that might at least wear a bra.” Ew. I could go on and on. This book was practically an SNL skit of 70s ‘hip young’ stereotypes. All those wild and crazy swingin’ chicks.

OK, enough making fun of the 70s. I think what I like about books set in the 70s is there’s often this whole groovy gritty thing happening. The yuppified 80s, with AIDS and Madonna and Working Girl and shoulder pads hadn’t happened yet. The cynical 90s and the Internet hadn’t happened yet. Everybody wasn’t weighed down by incredible amounts of stress and guilt and mulitasking and barely concealed panic all the time. I find 70s books a relief to read, even as I surprise myself by wondering why someone doesn’t just call someone on their cell… or why they can’t leave a message… or even why they don’t have a microwave! Funny how soon we forget and adapt.

ANYWAY: about the book. I haven’t seen the 1997 movie, but the book was pretty well-done for a teen suspense novel. 70s grooviness and all. Four friends go out for a picnic. There is a terrible accident on the way home. They make a pact that they’ll never tell. But… someone knows. And is making them pay, one by one.

I had the bad guy picked out by the time the second clue fell, but it was still pretty good. Mostly I enjoyed it for the time-warp aspect. I think this was published in 1973, a year before I was born. It was totally fun to pick out all the things that dated the story, from the slang and mentions of fashions, to the attitudes expressed and also the references to “‘Nam” (as in, Vietnam, as in, the Vietnam War). For instance, a mother was vaguely worried that her daughter would drop out of high school to marry her boyfriend, whom she “had been spending a lot of time with.” This mother had hoped that her daughter would have “another year of high school, and then maybe college,” but you know how those young kids are.

These days, that would have been the whole PLOT to a YA novel (oh yeah, it is = Twilight) — no upper-middle-class mother in a novel for teens in the 2000s is going to just casually ponder if her daughter is going to marry at age 17 or if she’ll hopefully finish high school.

Very interesting how times change. I saw differences between the Lois Duncan books (1970s and early 80s) and the Christopher Pike novel (set in the 90s) — big differences. Way more differences than in adult novels from the same time periods. Interesting.

Anyway. Fun, quick read. Just what I needed after the huge, absorbing Witching Hour.

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