A friend of mine is reading GIRL, my first novel, and we were talking about it and I ended up reading a big chunk of it the other day.
I hadn't read more than a page or two of it in years, so this immersion was kind of revelation. Mainly I was shocked by the sex and drugs and carnage and brutality of Andrea's high school, the so innocent sounding "Hillside High." There's race riots, rape, murder, suicide, people stopping being friends with people without communicating about it or providing closure. And of course everyone's having sex with everyone all the time. And not in committed relationships!
And in the middle of it is Andrea Marr, who in my fond memories is this charming, lovable, observer just doing the best she can. But NO! Andrea is as bad as the rest of them!
I sort of understand a little better, the shift in Amazon commentary from the 90s when teens were so consistently positive about GIRL, and the newer comments in which today's teens struggle with all the mayhem and loose morals. They just don't know what to think about it, you can tell. Which is fine. I understand. Times have changed. I also don't feel so bad that I've kind of cleaned up my later books. I did the right thing. The whole world has "cleaned up" in a way. And when I think about it, and am honest, I think I'd rather be a kid now, in the Glee era, the time of the High School Musical. It just seems so much easier now.