Cover of Remember Me to Harold Square, with a girl and a boy leaning into each other, wearing late '80s clothes, and a boy, wearing a State of Liberty crown, standing on the fountain wall behind them

About the Book

Title: Remember Me to Harold Square
Published: 1987
Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Cover Story: 80s-tastic
BFF Charm: Yay
Talky Talk: Paperback Writer
Bonus Factors: NYC, True Facts, Handwritten Letters
Relationship Status: Childhood Bestie

Cover Story: 80s-tastic

I chose to insert the cover image in a larger size than usual because I WANT YOU GUYS TO SEE EVERY MAGNIFICENT DETAIL. The airbrushed t-shirt knotted to the side! The slouchy purse! The awesomely obnoxious kid brother! IT’S ALL THERE FOLKS. Gah, I miss the days of realistic covers. There’s no angsty tilted faces or headless bodies or Twilight-wannabe shizz up in here! This cover is straight up out of the book, down to the Empire State Building salt & pepper shaker and the Statue of Liberty hat. WHEN CAN I SEE THIS FRAMED AT THE MOMA?

And if that wasn’t enough, check out the paperback version (the one I am lucky enough to have in my collection):

Cover of Remember Me to Harold Square, with a girl and a boy leaning into each other, wearing late '80s clothes, and a boy, wearing a State of Liberty crown, standing on the fountain wall behind them

Nowadays, if you want to make something cooler, you put a bird on it. But back in the 80s, it was all about RAINBOWS.

The Deal:

It’s 1987, and fourteen-year-old Kendra Kaye is trying to prepare herself for a longass boring summer stuck at home in New York City. While her friends are off doing all of the amazing things that private school kids do like GO TO PARIS WTF, Kendra is dreading the endless nagging of her mom and the highly irritating presence of her kid brother, Oscar, who goes by O.K. and likes to say annoying shizz like, “I’m O.K. and you’re not!” Ha ha ha SHUT UP KID. I just want to take a minute here to thank my parents for making me an only child. BLESS YOU.

Fortunately for Kendra, her plans change in a big way with the arrival of Frank Lee, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kaye’s close friends. While his parents are off trying to save their marriage in Europe, Frank will be staying with the Kayes, which means Kendra will be living right next to a REAL LIVE TEENAGE BOY. Even better, her parents have planned a scavenger hunt for O.K., Kendra and Frank so they can get to know all of the treasures and secrets of the Big Apple. Nicknamed the Serendipities, the threesome set out to achieve all of the goals of the hunt in order to win a trip to England. As you can guess, Kendra’s exploration goes beyond the streets of New York as she begins to learn how to deal with her complicated feelings towards boys and Frank in particular.

BFF Charm: Yay

Yay BFF Charm

Kendra Kaye, you are the cutest! You’re messy as hell, rude to your little brother (as you should be), and completely freaked out about boys. It’s no wonder that I totally identified with you when I read this book as a tween, cos boys scared the cuss outta me. Since most of the YA I read nowadays has to do with 16-18 year-olds, it’s easy to forget about that totally confusing time when you transition from thinking boys are grody to thinking they’re sexy (and then not even being able to say the latter because WHAT! FREAKY!). It’s utterly charming to remember those feelings through Kendra, who valiantly tries to process and deal with them while being impressively cool around Frank. Not only is Kendra a great friend to her gal pals, she also lives in an apartment in Manhattan, and I am all ABOUT fostering relationships with anyone who fits that description because NYC hotels are expensive, you guys.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

This book has a much younger voice than most of the modern YA we review on the site, so the swoon is pretty low and simplistic in nature. When I read this as a tween (I believe I was ten when I first picked it up?), I thought it was SUPER ROMANTIC just because I had barely read any books with an actual kiss in them. As an adult, I find Frank’s obsession with his girlfriend at home to be a little creepy, esp. cos she’s older and her name is Mary Alice. I mean, I’m sorry, but MARY ALICE? Cougar in training, y’all. Still, it’s fun to recall the moments when a boy touching you on the arm was enough to give you a shiver-induced seizure.

Talky Talk: Paperback Writer

First, I have to give Paula Danziger massive pants for writing YA in the dark ages of the late 80s. Back then, we didn’t have your high-falutin’ literary authors like Sara Zarr and Lauren Oliver. No siree! We had to make do with whatever the publishing industry gave us! And we were THANKFUL! But seriously, when I discovered writers like Danziger and Ellen Conford, I felt a huge sense of relief, like, finally, there were books out there that were funny and straight up and written JUST FOR KIDS LIKE ME.

This stuff is classic paperback material: easy, satisfying, and fast. There’s no fancy literary devices, just a fun story. Re-reading it as an adult, I’m comforted by the simple, straight-forward nature of Danziger’s writing even as I roll my eyes at her attempts at humor. Example:

My mother sighs so much that I tell her that her reaction to whatever I do is “one sighs fits all.”

She tells me that my attempts at independence are a way of my “trying it on for sighs.”

BA-DOOM BOOM CHING! Danziger’s writing is like hanging out with my dad–it’s really comforting to me, and I love it all, even the bad jokes.

Bonus Factor: NYC

Overhead view of New York City skyline

The main reason this book was one of my top faves as a tween is because it’s all about NEW YORK CITY! And when I was in junior high (and, ok, high school), there was no place more magical than the Big Apple. As a drama club kid, I was DYING to go there, and this book spelled out all of the reasons why (and in much better detail than the Baby-Sitters Club Super Special). Through the scavenger hunt, the Serendipities hit up all of the gems of the city, from the museums to the tasty business to the cheesy shizz that I’m never too ashamed to enjoy when I’m there. Even after visiting NYC many, many times as an adult, re-reading this book still gave me a solid fangirl-fest about one of my fave places.

Bonus Factor: True Facts

A row of brown leather encyclopedias on a shelf

Not only did I get to explore New York through Kendra’s eyes, I also got to learn a shizz ton about it! Thanks to the scavenger hunt, I know totally important facts like the names of the lions in front of the main NYC library, the location of the narrowest house and the acreage of Central Park. And did I brag about this knowledge in junior high so I could pretend like I was a cool New Yorker? YOU BETCHA.

Bonus Factor: Handwritten Letters

A handwritten note from Stephanie, who is mad at Kyle for not answering her calls

I might find this annoying in new releases, but as a kid, I LOVED it when books featured “real” handwritten notes from the characters. Gee, I wonder where that came from. Kendra’s letters and postcards from her friends who are away for the summer are scattered throughout the book, making it that much more adorable.

Relationship Status: Childhood Bestie

This book and I go waaaaaay back. As kids, we were inseparable, always dreaming and scheming about being old enough to move to the Big Apple and live the LIFE. The years have passed, and while I’ve outgrown our friendship, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for it. In fact, every so often, we have a little reunion, just so we can laugh about our awkwardness and silly antics and fondly recall those days when our future was wide open and New York City was the most thrilling place on earth. And regardless of how much we’ve changed, the latter will always be true.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.