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Book Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (with a TPIB)

Tonight we’re going to party likes it’s 1962!

When you find that your boyfriend is cheating on you with a cyber wife, there is only one thing you can do – swear off all technology and return to a time where life was simpler.  That’s right, Mallory is Going Vintage.  Back to the 1960s, 1962, to be exact.  Mallory finds a “to do” list from her grandmother’s Junior year and decides she is going to complete it for her.  All she has to do is:
(1) find a steady boyfriend (for someone)
(2) become secretary of the pep club (but she’ll have to start it first)
(3) sew her own Homecoming dress (in just a couple of weeks)
(4) host a dinner party and
(5) do something dangerous

Seems easy enough, right?  But living without modern day conveniences can be a drag, although an often humorous one.  Breaking up is hard to do, and finding yourself can be even harder.  

I will tell you right off the bat, Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt gets 4.5 out of 5 stars and I think everyone should read this book.  Why?  In the spirit of the list making mania in Going Vintage, I will tell you in list format.  Lists are a thing in Going Vintage, Mallory uses them a lot. They are part of what make this book fun to read. And quirky.

1.  It is touching and heartwarming while being laugh out loud funny.  Think Joan Bauer or Sarah Dessen.  This was such a pleasant read, but insightful and thoughtful.  It brings together in perfect harmony all the elements you want in a funny, thoughtful coming of age story.  A perfect blend of the past and the present, the perfect blend of humor and wit with heartfelt emotions.

2.  Mallory is pretty kick ass.  Not in a Buffy slay the demons kind of way, but in a sets her mind to a task and really works for it kind of way.  She is real, authentic.  She is hurting but soldiering on in her own unique ways.  One of the best moments is the slow realization that she doesn’t have a “thing”, and her quest to try and find herself.  She realizes that she let herself get lost in her boyfriend, Jeremy, and decides to try and find herself.  That is a bold and daring undertaking for anyone with a broken heart.

3.  There is a fully developed and integrated family dynamic in this story.  We all know YA lit likes to pretend that teens are living lives as single children with uninvolved parents who never grace the pages of a ya book.  But family is an important part of Mallory’s life, even in the midst of all its messy glory.  Each family members is present and active in Mallory’s life, and as Mallory allows her heart to expand she also allows herself to better understand and embrace her family.

Speaking of family, earlier this week we talked about both Siblings and Multigenerational relationships in YA lit.  Going Vintage has both.  Mallory has a fun, supportive younger sister that drives much of the story.  And then there is Mallory’s grandmother, a wise woman who shows Mallory that the teenage years are always challenging, although the accessories may differ, and that no one is perfect.  Both of these relationships are moving and touching and edifying.

4.  There is a slowly brewing love story with a realistic, multi-dimensional guy.  No, not that love story.  Jeremy is ick.  But there are surprises in store for Mallory, and a reminder to readers that people are not always what they seem.  Also, yay for healthy relationship modeling.  As Mallory allows herself to tiptoe into these new waters, we see glimpses of what it means to take chances and open yourself up once again to another soul, even when your heart is breaking.

5.  Taking a romp through the past with Mallory as she tries to live her life 60s style is fun and deceptively educational, both about the era itself and about human nature.

Everyone who has ever had their heart broken and struggled to find themselves in the aftermath will see themselves in Going Vintage.  Touching, funny, simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, Going Vintage is a classic feel good story that lifts the spirit while tickling your funny bone.  Also, a GREAT mother/daughter or book discussion group read.  A note from Stephanie: I knew Stephanie had read Going Vintage too and I texted her, “Did you like it?”  Her reply: “YES!!”


Going Vintage has some easy and obvious programming opportunities, and easy plug in ideas for a book discussion group.  There are a wealth of fun things you can do with teens to enrich the reading experience.

1.  When Mallory and her sister host their “soiree”, they research and put together vintage foods.  You can re-create the same foods or do some additional research and host your own soiree.

2.  There are so many creative writing prompts potential here:
Pick a modern day item and write what it would be like to live without it
Pick a time that you would like to Go Vintage in, research and write about a day in the life
Discuss: Is online cheating the same as real life cheating in a relationship?
Make a to do list of things you want to accomplish this year

3.  Use The Look Book by Erika Stalder to research iconic looks of the era.  Use other items in your local library collection to research the style of the era.  Do makeovers and put together a fashion show.

4.  You can put together a variety of trivia quizzes about the era to share that involve popular culture, technology of the times, and more.

5.  Since most of us no longer have record players, buy some vintage records at the thrift store and make some Record Bowls.  Instructions can be found at http://www.casasugar.com/DIY-Rockin-Vinyl-Record-Bowl-388078.

6.  Here’s a look at some of the things that happened in 1962.  Research it, write about it, put together a 1962 newspaper.

7.  Here are some popular toys from 1962, including the Etch a Sketch.  Get a bunch of Etch a Sketchs together and have some fun races and competitions.

8. Here are some TV and music highlights of 1962.  You can have some playing in the background.

9. Candy Land was created in 1945 and popular in the 1960s.  Put together a Live Action Candy Land game and invite your teens to be a part of the game.  Instructions at http://recreationguy.com/how-to-put-together-a-life-size-candy-land-game-part-1/.

10. Some people were still having Sock Hops in the 1960s, which slowly died towards the end of the 60s.  So, have a sock hop.

Other events from the 1960s that you can tie-in:

  • In the 1960s American Bandstand was popular – Put on your own version, don’t forget to do some of the fun games they did.
  • In 1962 Chubby Checker introduced the Twist
  • In 1961 Beatlemania began to sweep the country
  • In  the 1960s Elvis was shaking his hips and making movies
  • In 1962 John Glenn was getting ready to orbit the moon
  • The 1960s were defined by the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Space Race

1960s novels include:
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Catch 22
Slaughterhouse Five
To Kill a Mockingbird
And the Archie and Veronica comics

Popular Crafts in the 1960s Include:
Tie Dye
Love Beads
(More info www.squidoo.com/60scrafts)

Retro Reading:
Take the concept of Going Vintage one step further and do a book discussion group that focuses on a new decade each month.  What books would you recommend for the 50s, the 70s, the 80s and the 90s? Tell us in the comments.

Some of the research for this post comes from A Cultural History of the United States: Through the Decades, the 1960s by Gini Holland.  Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt will be published in March of 2013 by Bloomsbury.  ISBN: 9781599907871. This review refers to a digital galley.


  1. Oh, well, this one is now on my list. I thought it looked cute, but now that I know it's in 1962 (the year of my birth) I've got to have it. Thanks!

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