Monday, January 25, 2016

When Do-Overs Become Novels -- Jen Doktorski

The eighties were not my favorite decade.
The fashion, the hair, the music (most of it anyway), my entire high school experience…you can keep it. All of it. Except for John Hughes, him I’ll take. Because as I’ve said here before, back then, he was the only guy who got me.
I stepped into the 90s with Doc Martens, black tights, and baby doll dresses vowing never to revisit or relive my high school years. And for the most part, I’ve been true to my word. I’ve never attended a high school reunion and the foot locker containing all my high school memorabilia sits in my garage, untouched and unopened since 1989. Not even the knowledge that one of the items contained within is a purple Le Sport Sac purse filled with high school notes folded into triangles (the precursor to text messages) has prompted me to open that box. Clearly, I have issues.
And yet despite all this, some part of me—some big part of me—must have been longing for a do-over.
Why else would I set all three of my YA novels during the summer between junior and senior year of high school? A time when many teens find themselves on the precipice of life-altering changes and choices. A time which, if I had to be honest, I’d go back and do and say things differently. It’s not the reason I became an author, but it certainly is an interesting byproduct. Through my characters I’ve gotten to pursue my shelved passion for marine biology, face the mean girls with confidence and pithy comebacks, and give my nerdy-self permission to be exactly that, nerdy.
Ever since we decided we’d be writing about do-overs this month, the Eddie Money song “I Wanna Go Back” has been on rotation in the playlist inside my head. Weird because, 80s music, bleh. But there’s a line in the song that goes, “I want to go back, and do it all over, but I can’t go back, I know.” Eddie is a very successful songwriter and musician, but clearly, he wasn’t a YA author. Had he been, he might have been singing a much different tune.


  1. Oh God I don't want to go back either. And yet, here I am, Jen, like you, diving into those years again and again. One of these days we will get it right :)

    1. I always wonder if I'll be writing about the "mommy years" two decades from now. How much distance do we need before we go back and try to make things right?

  2. I wonder how many YA authors never attend a high school reunion--my, um, 20th was last year, and I didn't go, either...

    1. I'm betting more than 50 percent don't go, Holly. :)