Welcome to Lost Classics of Teen Lit: Name That Book!

Welcome to Lost Classics of Teen Lit’s supplemental blog, devoted to finding your own personal “lost classics.”

I  frequently receive comments and e-mails from readers who are looking for a dimly-remembered book. I know this pain! While I had been able to help in a few cases with coming up with a title and author, I wanted to open up the search to classic YA fans. In 2017 I added a casual page to the main blog, and reader response slowly (and then suddenly!) grew, to the point that I wanted to make things a little more self-service for my readers.

How to request help finding a “lost” book title:

From now on I will be taking “lost” book requests via e-mail at mondomolly@gmail.com, and each request will be posted as a separate blog entry here.

Tips for a successful request:

  1. Provide a short description of what you can remember about the plot, including any dialogue or weird details (“the main character was obsessed with her lime-green notebook paper”) you might remember. If a detail stuck with you, chances are it stuck with someone else!
  2. Let us know when you read the book: “Around 1987” is better than “when I was in third grade” (we have readers falling into a huge age-range!)
  3. Surprisingly, anything you can remember about the cover can be really
    helpful! We had a successful ID with just “two girls who went to the beach and the cover was blue”! (It was The Long Secret)
  4. The focus is on Young Adult and Middle Reader books published between 1939 and 1989, so books that fall into those categories will be most likely to be solved; however, I will accept requests from any era, genre or reading level. By the same token, most of my readers hail from the United States, the UK and Australia, but feel free to request a book that may have come from any country or originally published in any language- Scholastic republished a number of titles in translation!

Once You Have Submitted Your Request:

It is my intention to publish updates weekly, and to send out a brief form e-mail letting you know when your request is up on the site. I recommend using the search feature and searching either by your name or a keyword from your request.

I know that book! I have a suggestion for that book!

No need to send an e-mail, simply comment on the post!

Constant Readers, thank you for your continued support and readership, and patience in awaiting this new era in Naming That Book!

Additional Resource: Lost Classics reader Daisy kindly suggested the Goodreads group What’s The Name of That Book? as another place to crowdsource an answer to your lost book descriptions. 


Request #630 from Cici

This was a short story I read in middle school, 5-7 years ago, I don’t remember if it was in a book or magazine, but it was not online. It was horror story about a teenaged girl who sets a trap for a man who has been abusing local kids. The main thing I remember is that somehow this trap involved making him a ‘sugar cream pie” but I can’t remember if it was posioned or if it somehow trapped him some other way. I would really like to find this story and read it again, thanks!

Request #628 From Jenny

You and your site helped me identify a book a few years ago, and I’m hoping you can help again! I have a lot of details but can’t manage to search in a way that pulls up this book.

This book is from the 70s or 80s, I read it in probably the mid to late 90s. It was paperback and a realistic, contemporary, coming-of-age YA fiction. It’s from a boy’s POV and mostly takes place during the summer before going into high school. I think the main character has been chubby his whole life, but spends the summer working really hard doing landscaping with his friend, and by the end of the book he’s surprised that he’s way taller, stronger, and not chubby anymore. He’s had a major crush on this hot, thin girl and ignores her chubby friend (who he DOES notice has beautiful brown eyes). I think that he and his friend spend the summer trying to surprise the hot girl when she’s sunbathing so that she’ll sit up without her top on. I think that something crazy happens at the end of the book (like an escaped dog, or someone being chased through the yard), and she DOES sit up but the main character misses seeing it? But his friend does and is gobsmacked lol. Anyways, the chubby girl by the end of the summer ALSO gets thinner while she’s away at camp and is suddenly all sexy in a new swimsuit. The main character doesn’t recognize her at first, but then recognizes her beautiful brown eyes. He kisses her and they start the new school year. 

Request #627 From Robin (ourladyunderground)

Hi, I’m looking for a YA book, possibly published 1950s-1980s, as a broad range. But I believe it would have been more likely published 1960s-70s. I read the book sometime between 1981 and 1984 in elementary school. The book was a mystery, and involved a girl who is sent to some type of boarding school or summer program in a castle or chateau, possibly in France, or Italy. She has an injury that causes her a lot of pain, and she has to have some type of physical therapy treatments that are also very painful. She’s doesn’t like being in the school/program, and doesn’t make friends there easily. She and some of the other students go on an outing in one scene of the book. The teacher buys the younger students some ice cream and asks if she would like some, too, but she opts for some type of fruit drink or squash, because she is afraid it will make her look like a “baby” to choose the ice cream, even though she really doesn’t like the fruit drink, and finds it sticky and tasteless. She meets a boy about her own age who has some connection to the castle or chateau, and he also has some physical issue with his back, like scoliosis or a hump on his back,  and is quite surly with her at first. But they eventually become embroiled in a mystery together and (I think) become friends or allies in solving the mystery. I think the mystery involves a missing treasure or painting or some other piece of art. I have tried Googling, and have also searched Google Books many times with varying key words, to no avail. Someone here on the old blog post suggested And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engel. However, I don’t think this is it. I checked out the book and read through a great deal of it. While it is admittedly similar, this doesn’t seem to be the one I’m searching for. I don’t recall any hint of romance in the book I read so long ago, and in my memory, the girl and boy meeting for the first time is quite contentious, and doesn’t involve a heart to heart by a lake. I also don’t recall the protagonist skiing (as in ABWY); I feel like it is set in warmer months. I have also posted on the What’s the Name of that Book Goodreads page and some very kind folks have linked me to some lists of YA fiction set in different countries, but as of right now, none of these are a match. Many of the YA books suggested are heavy on the bad girl sent to boarding school angle, and/or romance.  I don’t feel this was very present, if at all, in the book I read.  The only other scene I remember is at one point, the girl looks outside in the night and sees the boy’s face looking up, reflected in the moonlight.  I feel his name might be Andre or Rene.  Many thanks!

Request #625 From Rebecca

Your readers came through so fast with my last mystery I thought I’d try another. A friend of mine gave me a romance novel for my birthday in either 1985 or 1986. I cannot remember the title. The protagonist is a young tennis prodigy who for some reason ends up at a rich man’s island paradise, I think in or near Bermuda. She wants to leave the island but for some reason the planes are delayed. There’s a May/December thing going on. She learns that when she was just starting playing tennis he was winning Wimbledon. She goes shopping around the island and some (him)? gets her a sexy wrap dress/jumpsuit as an “Easter Egg” present. Then a hurricane comes and they are stranded in the house together. The rich dude’s valet makes finger foods they can eat when the power goes out, which of course it does, and they have a romantic hurricane interlude. I can’t remember how it ends but since it’s a romance novel I’m sure they end up together. I feel like the cover was white…maybe Harlequin romance?

Request #622 From Barb

I’m usually pretty good at finding these but not this one.

It was a teen romance that was probably published in the late fifties, early sixties. I believe the main character’s name was Cassie; I think there was also a boy named Rory in the story. I’m pretty sure there was some sort of betrayal perpetrated by those two involving a stolen kiss that was flavored by salt air, or something along those lines. It was probably mass market size and I think the color was yellow with a drawing of Cassie (if that was her name) on it.

Thanks very much!