I’m reading THE CHEERLEADER, by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I know of many women who came of age in the 70’s who say this book was a favorite, primarily because of the sex in the story (set in the 50’s, it was published in 1973 and reissued in 1998). Well, yes, there is some, but as someone who discovered Harold Robbins’s novels when she was a teen, let me just say MacDougal was a white glove writer when it came to sex.

I’m teaching an all-day workshop this Saturday on writing YA fiction. Prepping for that and reading THE CHEERLEADER has started me thinking about the appeal of adult fiction to teens and the line between YA and adult fiction (and I’m using “adult” in the broad sense, not X-rated, though of course more than a few passages in any Harold Robbins novel might qualify as X-rated). Many teens move back forth so easily; John Grisham, Mary Higgens Clark, and Stephen King are a few of the old guard adult writers who continue to attract a wide teen audience. But do teens read adult fiction for scintillation (and education) anymore? I suspect…not so much.

What were your favorite dirty books during your teen years?