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YA A to Z: Classic Hollywood in YA Literature, a guest post by Lisa Clark

Today for the letter C, librarian Lisa Clark is talking about Classic Hollywood in YA Literature.


When I was in grade school, my dad showed me the 1950 movie Harvey starring James Stewart. From that moment, I was enamored with Old Hollywood. With a certain charm and innocence to them, these movies are classics for a reason. Over the years, my love has only grown and I have continuously sought out more and more of these films.

In our world of sequels and remakes, it is not unusual that these beloved and timeless movies would be retold. While young adult is no stranger to a retelling, be it Shakespeare or fairy tales, lately I’ve noticed that some young adult literature is throwing it back to the golden age of cinema and getting inspiration from these classic Hollywood stars and films. After all, they are still being remembered and talked about after all these years for a reason: they continue to resonate with people today.

Hollywood in YA Fiction: List from Goodreads

Teens in Tinseltown: Six Hollywood YA Novels | LitReactor

So, here is a list of a few classic Hollywood inspired young adult fiction:


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Most people will see the synopsis of this book and think of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie You’ve Got Mail from the 1990s. But really You’ve Got Mail is a remake of the Jimmy Stewart movie The Shop Around the Corner from 1940. It’s no surprise that the film has been remade over and over as it is the story of anonymous pen pals falling in love, while not realizing they already know each other in real life.

In Alex, Approximately, Bailey, who is a classic film fan, befriends Alex online. The two connect as they write back and forth and form a close bond. Meanwhile, Bailey has moved to California and has started working in a museum, where one of the guards annoys her incessantly. If you know either of the movies mentioned, you can probably guess that Bailey’s pen pal Alex is actually the annoying museum guard. This is a sweet contemporary romance about love, hate, and everything in between.


The Last Best Story by Maggie Lehrman

This book is not published until August, so that gives you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with its inspiration His Girl Friday. In the classic movie, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell play exes who used to work on a newspaper together. When Cary learns Rosalind has become engaged to a boring insurance agent, he tries to convince her to come back to the exciting life of journalism. The dialogue and wit keeps the story moving and makes it feel fresh even after almost 80 years.

The Last Best Story focuses on high school seniors Rose and Grant, who were almost a couple, until Rose abruptly quit the school paper. Now she is trying to enjoy being a normal high school student with a new, normal boyfriend, until Grant tries to get her back — except he isn’t sure if he wants her back for himself or for the paper. Add in excitement surrounding the Senior Prom being put on lockdown and you have a witty screwball comedy that makes this book sound like the perfect modern take on a classic movie.


Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

Just like Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Lisbeth longs for a glamorous life away from her dysfunctional family. When Lisbeth gets a chance to try on Hepburn’s iconic dress from the aforementioned movie, she is thrust into the spotlight as the new “It Girl”. In the end, Lisbeth has to decide what is more important and choose between her old life and the spotlight. While not a direct retelling of an old movie, it still touches on the appeal of an old Hollywood star like Hepburn, who is still just as beloved today as decades ago.

For more Hepburn love try Oh Yeah, Audrey by Tucker Shaw .


Selling Hope by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

This is another book that is not a direct movie retelling, but has silent film star Buster Keaton as a central character. This book immerses the reader into the history of 1910. Hope McDaniels and her father are part of the vaudeville circuit, which bores Hope. She wants out, so she finds a way to make money quick. With the help of a young Buster Keaton, Hope starts a con where she sells anti-comet pills to people worried about the upcoming Halley’s Comet. With insight into the time period and vaudeville, this book is for historical fiction fans and anyone wanting a peek into what life was like just before the silent era of movies.

For another book with Buster Keaton as a character, try Bluffton by Matt Phelan

Meet Guest Blogger Lisa Clark


Lisa Clark has worked at the Kenton County Public Library in northern Kentucky since 2005. She’s done a little bit of everything, but currently works at the children’s reference desk where she helps maintain the collection by weeding and ordering materials. She also leads the writers group at her branch and writes read alike recommendations for Novelist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she likes to run, watch TV shows and movies with her husband, and listen to podcasts.

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