Monday, November 19, 2012

Books of our youth: Romance!

From my guest-post series, here is Mieke Zamora-Mackay on a romance with an unusual ending.

I was eleven years old when I picked up my first Sweet Dreams book from Bantam Books. The pocket-sized collection of numbered stand-alone teen romances, featuring pretty, wholesome-looking American girls on their covers, were an instant hit among Filipino teens in the mid-eighties.

P. S. I Love You by Barbara Conklin was the first volume and is a favorite of those that still remember the series. In it, fifteen year-old Mariah and her family house-sit in Palm Springs over the summer. While there, she meets handsome, rich, but cancer-stricken neighbor, Paul Strobe. They enjoy their time together and fall in love, but Paul’s strict mother and the treatments that weaken him cut their time short. SPOILER ALERT: He dies in the end.

Capturing all the excitement, the uncertainly, and the tummy-flutters of young first love, as well as the heartache and pain of illness and loss, I ate it all up. And to have it end the way it did? I was blown away. I didn’t realize until then that books could have such sad endings.

I was hooked. With money saved from a couple weeks’ allowance, I’d buy volume after volume. The stories ran the gamut of teen issues from low self-esteem, angst from bullying and mean girls, confusion from a parents’ divorce, even the tug-of-war between choosing a dream over true love. These books formed my first personal library.


The series is no longer in production, and admittedly, it is of lighter fare compared to what is available in the genre today. However, I recently re-read P. S. I Love You and was pleasantly surprised to find that the issues and emotions were still honest and relevant. I still cried in the end, just like I did thirty years ago.

Mieke Zamora-Mackay blogs at The Author-in-Training.


  1. oh... I REMEMBER that book! I LOVED it... and you're right... I think that was the first story I ever read that didn't have the happy ending... aw, now I want to find and read again. :) Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

    1. Yes, I told Mieke I thought it was daring of them to have such a sad ending!

  2. How did I miss these books? I would have loved them. Wait. They probably hadn't been published when I was eleven. Sigh.