'Althea & Oliver' Will Rock Your Punk Heart, Plus 5 More Books of '90s Mixtapes and Mohawks
If your only sources of pop culture are Internet lists and whatever's selling at Forever21 these days, you might feel like '90s nostalgia is one of those trends that's just totally unavoidable. Sure, throwbacks to flannel, Furbies, and Lisa Frank have taken over the fashion world and .gifs on Tumblr, but there's one realm of culture that has managed, for the most part, to stay out of the loop: Books. When we're immersed in novels, we're usually in the present or the (dystopian/utopian/apocalyptic) future, and when we do delve into the past, we're usually headed back more than just a couple of decades.
That's why Althea & Oliver , the debut book from Cristina Moracho, is so exciting. Set in 1996, the YA novel, about the uniquely close friendship between two high school students, is a perfect ode to the time. There are mohawk haircuts, teen-made zines, carefully curated mixtapes to be played in cross-country car rides during times of lax parental supervision. (LOVE.) Even if the book weren't eloquent and hilarious, it'd be a must-read for all children of the '90s. But thankfully, it is, and if you're smart, you'll run out and grab a copy.
Once you've snapped it up and gulped it down, you'll probably be wanting more of the atmopshere it creates. Here are five other books that will make you swoon for the days of beepers, chokers, and Jordan Catalano:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Pocket Books, 1999)
Steven Chbosky's beloved coming-of-age story is iconic for a reason; set in the early '90s, it captures the world of high school misfits with perfect, honest, and often cringeworthy precision. From denim jackets to tapes of The Smiths to showings of Rocky Horror, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the gold standard for depicting '90s adolescence in YA lit.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Balzer + Bray, 2012)
Emily M. Danforth's moving story of a a lesbian teen forced to attend a "conversion camp" is a must-read for all ages, but those who, like the book's protagonist, came of age in the early '90s, will appreciate it most of all. Teenage angst, high school cliques, and pre-Internet loneliness: How much more nostalgic can a novel get?
Ghost World (Fantagraphics Books, 1997)
Although the Scarlett Johansson-starring movie adaptation might've gotten the most notice, Daniel Clowes' stunning graphic novel is far from forgettable. Following a pair of cynical best friends who just graduated high school with no idea what to do next, the book captures the pains and triumphs of '90s adolescence with a sharp, knowing eye, down to garage-door graffiti and a zine called "Mayhem."
Eleanor & Park (St. Martin's Press, 2013)
It may be set in 1986, but with all the references to Walkmans, mixtapes, and eyeliner-inspired bullying, Rainbow Rowell's acclaimed book could just have easily taken place a few years later. Sharp, funny, and "oh, man" reminiscent, Eleanor & Park is everything a '90s teen — and the rest of the world — could want from a novel. Althea & Oliver, actually, is relatively similar in tone, so for any Rowell fans aching for a Park follow-up before the movie comes out, check out Moracho's novel to get your fix.
The Future of Us (Razorbill, 2011)
Two teens in 1996 install AOL, somehow stumble onto their future Facebook selves, and, understandably, freak out. If you're longing for the pre-Internet days while guiltily editing your latest Tweet, Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's fantastically funny book is for you.