The other day my 14-year-old asked me whether I would re-live my teen years for $1 million. The answer was a resounding "No!" Memories of searing humiliation still lurk in my (scarred) subconscious. The senior prom alone could keep me chatting with a psychiatrist for months. (Even though, from what I've heard, my date is happily out of the closet and a very successful interior decorator. All's well that ends well, right?) At this point, those memories should be a funny, rosy glow far in the distance. Ha.
The only plus side to my inability to forget is that I keenly enjoy novels in which characters have suffered similar trauma. These five novels are perfect for reading on a beach, surrounded by friends, far from the horrors of the past — because our worst memories make wonderful reading.
I made it absolutely clear to my daughter that no amount of money would convince me to return me to my teen years and relive events I still shudder to think about. "You should be nicer to me," Anna said with satisfaction, having proved her point. "You should let me eat ice cream every day after school."
These books are as healing as ice cream: I recommend one a day.
Eloisa James is a New York Times best-selling author of historical romance novels and a Shakespeare professor at Fordham University in New York City. Her latest book is Once Upon a Tower. She is online at www.eloisajames.com.