Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: Valley Girl Childhood in the 80s

Valley Girl: Childhood in the 80s 
by Amy Asbury

It's hard to put a price on something that can jolt memories you never thought were still in your head. Maybe it's just me who loves to escape from my adulthood and think about the simpler times of elementary school and play, but I'll always be grateful for being placed on this earth in such a time to grow up in the 1980s. As a parent now, I see how time ticks by faster than when I was a kid. It's hard to force yourself to slow down so your kids will enjoy their younger years and have some lasting memories. I often wish I had kept a journal or something that documented some of my days. Luckily, there are books like Valley Girl: Childhood in the 80s to help.

Author Amy Asbury has somehow laid out a blueprint of her childhood growing up in California's San Fernando Valley. As she puts it:
I may have felt different from my parents, but I was okay with that. I had my own world; one they made possible. I body-surfed on salty white waves in the Pacific Ocean; heard the crackle of bon-fires. I held puffy baby chicks, laid on warm grass, blew jumbo bubbles, and played with an array of colorful toys.
Through a series of short essays, Asbury tells everything she can remember in her elementary years. She jumps from jelly shoes to breakfast cereals to secret clubs quicker than Q*Bert hopping away from Coily. The references in this book seemingly number in the thousands. But even though they are technically her stories, you find yourself experiencing several "I remember that" moments as you read the book as if you are reading your own journal.

Now when I think of "Valley Girl," two movies come to mind. The obvious one is 1983's Valley Girl and then the 1995 film Clueless. Knowing the stereotype that is displayed in these movies, I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up the book. But Asbury does not inundated it with those references. She mixes in her experiences as "valley girl" trends became popular but the quick jumps from topic to topic in the book keeps the reader's focus away from the stereotype and more on pop culture in general. Even though this is a "Valley Girl" experience, there were many things for even a guy like me who grew up on the East coast to enjoy. Valley Girl: Childhood in the 80s  is a fun read for anyone wanting to dislodge some memories from the walls of their 80s brain.

Here is a table of contents to give you an idea of some of the topics covered in the book:
  1. Creepy Pervs in Molester Vans
  2. Smurfs, Stickers, and Shrinky Dinks
  3. You're So Moded
  4. The Magical World of Boys
  5. Water Balloons, Diaries, and Secret Clubs
  6. Now & Laters, Jelly Shoes, and Hershers
  7. Cabbage Patch Kids and Underoos
  8. Are There Razorblades in the Candy?
  9. The New Wave Chick
  10. Uncomfortable Things

NOTE: I thought I'd mention that there is some explicit language scattered throughout the book as the author recalls her memories. If you are easily offended by explicit language, it might not be for you.

For more information on the author and her later memoirs from junior high and beyond, check out Amy's Amazon page or visit her blog. You can also like the Valley Girl: Childhood in the 80s Facebook page.

Valley Girl: Childhood in the 80s is available in paperback or for popular eReaders like: