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I Was a Teen Romance Tragic

  In the early 1980s, when the teen romance novel tsunami hit, I was wide open. My sisters were too old for these books, but I was the perfect age, the perfect emotional register. I found the Sweet Dreams series first. The books were cheap, and everywhere: at Angus and Robertson Bookworld, lower level Eastland, but also, in newsagents, chain stores and even milk bars. I ploughed through them. I read them while walking; at the breakfast table; in bed under torchlight. When I was finished with one, I stacked it reverently on my bookshelf with its mates in number order before scouting out the next. Imitators came thick and fast: Wildfire, Seniors, Electric High, Couples, Heartlines - I tried them all. They were not brilliant works of literature. They were challenging only in that they forced me to look at my life and acknowledge how very wrong it was. I found it hard to project onto the main character—our differences were too huge. I wasn’t looking for myself in the books, I was looking

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