The Triumphant Return of Plotfinder! #finelines #shelfdiscovery #jezebel

One of the great sadnesses about leaving Jezebel’s “Fine Lines” series behind is that I also had to retire the Plotfinder series, in which you all sent me your mysterious queries — “Girl on a bus who eats bean sprouts and peanut butter sandwich?” “The Divorce Express!” — and we all solved them.

Plotfinder was one of those weird items that sprang up organically almost from the first column, and I’ve often wondered if it’s because strange details and covers are so much more likely to endure — “Blue dress, orange dress, girl who says Avenue of the Americas instead of Sixth Avenue?” from “The Trouble With Thirteen” are especially persistent with me — than actual titles at that age. Someone could probably do a neurological study on it, and I am not that person! I am just the person in possession of about 100 unsolved queries who was always like “I’ll add it to the queue” and then let it languish for an unacceptable period.

Yesterday I found yet another trove of used YA — this one in Seaburn Books, in Astoria — and was like WAIT — why am I not posting a cover and a Plotfinder with some regularity so we can all enjoy the mystery and wonder thereof? In any case, I am now going to do so. Since I literally have 96 I should probably do one once a day but we’ll space them out. I’ll also see if I can get my publisher to donate some “Shelf Discovery” copies for the winners. For now it is all for the honor and the glory.

Feel free to answer HERE, or to friend Shelf Discovery on FB and answer there. You can also send me an email at

These first two come from Betsy P. and Ashley T.:

The book was set in Maryland. The heroine was a cheerleader/all around good girl who gets auctioned off, in a charity auction, to the school bad boy (drag racer) who gets her to skip school and help clean his car. They start to go out and her horizons get broadened by seeing that he is smart, etc. A secondary plot line is her trying to get into Mt. Holyoke and getting wait listed. She also has a brother at Yale who is becoming a hippie and questioning the family’s values and lifestyle.

The book ends with a pregnancy scare and the girl deciding to go to a small school in VA. She and the boy break up and she moves on with her life, but not the one that she took for granted she would have.

My guess is that it was published in the early 70’s. The cover of the book showed a Peter Max bedspread and a princess phone. How I can remember these arcane details and not the character’s names is a mystery to me.

The books are about a girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. In one book, she goes to school barefoot and is shamed by her teacher, whom she later learns to appreciate and who learns to appreciate her. In another book, she goes to the mainland for high school and decides against accounting in favor of the college course. Perhaps also In that book, she saves her money to buy “the book of knowledge” that she sees advertised in a magazine and desperately wants.

June 28th, 2010 at 9:50 am

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