Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunfire Romances

Last week, I wrote about my love for Jayhawk. This week, I want to talk about Sunfire Romances.

Do you remember these? Scholastic put them out in the '80s. It was a line of (sweet) young adult historical romances. Each book featured a different era of American history and a teenage protagonist who had to choose between two men. (Check out the Smart Bitches take on Sunfire covers as spoiler art.)

These were already out of print by the time I discovered them in my middle school library. (Yes, I distinctly remember my 7th grade self checking out Amanda to enjoy and Great Expectations to impress people.) Sadly, I did not get a chance to read them all--but I certainly sampled a representative variety.

As with all romance novel series, the quality of books definitely varied. Of the ones I read, my favorite romances had to be (in chronological order):
  • Marilee (Jamestown: Mary Francis Shura)
  • Amanda (Oregon Trail: Candice F. Ransom)
  • Caroline (Gold Rush: Willow Davis Roberts)
  • Susannah (Civil War: Candice F. Ransom)
There are several reasons these books had such an impact on me. First, they encouraged my love of history. Second, they influenced my writing. Even now, I use my favorites as excellent craft examples. Amanda changed dramatically (but convincingly) over the course of her story. Marilee fought against compelling conflict on every page--and all of the villains were satisfyingly punished. Ransom pulled out all the emotional stops in Susannah, and I remember bawling every time she raised the emotional stakes. Finally, Roberts gave a classic device new and interesting life in Caroline (heroine disguised as boy = most excellent!)

I have actually promised myself that, once I finally finish my National Boards portfolio, I'm going to reward myself by tracking down a few of those Sunfires I never read.

Did you ever read any Sunfire books? If so, which were your favorites--and why?

12 comments:

Kendra said...

I so totally read a few of these in sixth grade! Must have been between the SVHs, the issue fiction my mom used to get for me, and the Harlequins I borrowed from my grandmother.
I remember the 1850-ish Alaska one where the girl chooses between another American settler/merchant boy and a Russian fisherman boy.

sarah said...

I read them all and still have them all! I refuse to give them up! (Though... I could use the shelf space...) I'm even worse cause I pick up copies when ever i find them.

Caroline is definitely one of my favs.

Theresa said...

I loved these! My favorite was a world war 1 story; forget the name.

愛鋒頭 said...
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Anna Richland said...

First of all: my word verification is "pouse", like Mr. Richland if he lost an S, I uppose. Could not resist commenting on that.

When I was middle school age I was already reading British nanny walking on beach saves blind millionaire Harlequins, when I could get my hands on them. I remember a few passing hand to hand in the cafeteria. Quite hush hush. I don't recall running across these Sunfire things. I'm that little bit older, only a very little bit, so I missed Sweet Valley and Babysitters and all those series. I remember what I read at younger ages - things like Choose Your Own Adventure books, Narnia, and every last revolutionary hero-boy my public library had (does anyone else remember Frances Marion, Swamp Fox? Swamp Fox). I remember what I read in high school - romance and WWII thrillers. Boys from Brazil, Key to Rebecca, Helen MacInnes, Kathleen Woodiwiss.

I'm searching, but I have no clue whatsoever about what I read in 6th - 8th grade. Thus it will be a revelation in six years when I have a sixth grader.

Kate Diamond said...

Kendra, I never read the Alaska one. Now I am intrigued! May have to do an Amazon hunt...

Kate Diamond said...

Theresa, I think the World War I story was Laura... I actually have a copy of that.

オテモヤン said...
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Vivi Andrews said...

I've read the Alaska one! Dude, I love Sunfires, though the cover spoilers were vexing. I loved the one about the starlet - Roxanne? - and the tightrope girl - Gabrielle? Ah, Sunfires. :)

Kate Diamond said...

Oh see, I hear "tightrope" and all I can think of is the terribly vexing Sweet Valley saga, which had the 19th century Elizabeth twin totally dying in a circus show. VERY very upsetting to me.

Anonymous said...

I was just discussing these with a friend. The first one I read I'd gotten from a Scholastic book order in 6th grade. It was about a girl raised by the Iroquois. I devoured the book and read as many as I could find. It also began my love of history -- American history in particular.

Anonymous said...

Oooh...I was just searching for these...a walk down my literary memory lane. I LOVED these books when I was in middle school as well. My favorite was Laura, it was one of the longer ones. She was fighting for the suffrage movement in DC (This was the one that was about WW I) She also survives the fever of 1918. I also loved Heather (1600s Manhattan) and Diana (Lewis & Clark/Louisiana Purchase.) I read a lot of them...everything my library had to offer. I may try to track these down for my neice some day. (and maybe borrow a few) I am sure they would be awfuly cheesy to me now.